AbbVie acquires TeneoOne to keep pace in chase for new multiple myeloma drugs


A TeneoBio cancer drug is showing early encouraging signs of efficacy in clinical testing and AbbVie likes the results enough to exercise its option to acquire it, giving the pharmaceutical giant a way to keep up in the chase to hit a hot protein target for multiple myeloma.

AbbVie is paying an undisclosed sum to acquire TeneoOne, the affiliate of Newark, California-based TeneoBio that is developing the drug, TNB-383B. In 2019, the North Chicago-based pharmaceutical giant paid $90 million up front for an exclusive option to acquire TeneoOne, which was responsible for developing the drug through Phase 1 testing.

Multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, leads to tumors forming in the bones of the body. Several companies are aiming to treat the disease with drugs that hit B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), a protein that’s found in abundance on multiple myeloma cells. TNB-383B is a bispecific antibody that hits two cancer proteins, BCMA and CD3. The drug is designed to direct the immune system to target the tumors that express BCMA.

A Phase 1 dose-escalation test of TNB-383B is ongoing, but according to interim results reported by AbbVie and TeneoBio in 103 patients, treatment with the drug led to a 79% overall response rate. In patients given doses of 40 mg or greater, complete response to treatment was 29%. That result was reported in 24 patients with a median follow-up time of 6.1 months. It’s too soon to report the median duration of response. The most frequent adverse events reported in the study included an immune response called cytokine release syndrome, fatigue, and an abnormally low levels of a type of white blood cell called a neutrophil.

The first FDA approval for a BCMA-targeting therapy went to GlaxoSmithKline last August for Blenrep. That drug is an antibody drug conjugate, a type of drug that attaches a tumor-killing payload to a targeting antibody. In March, Bristol Myers Squibb won the regulatory nod for Abecma, a type of cell therapy called CAR T cell therapy, which is made by engineering a patient’s own immune cells. The BMS drug targets BCMA, as do cell therapies in development by Johnson & Johnson and Novartis. Amgen’s BCMA-targeting drug candidate is a bispecific T cell engager.

The GSK and BMS multiple myeloma drugs were each approved for treating patients whose disease has not responded to four lines of treatment. AbbVie plans to develop TNB-383B for those who have had three earlier treatments. The company also sees the intravenously administered TeneoBio drug as offering an advantage of less frequent dosing. Other BCMA and CD3 bispecific therapies must be given weekly. In a prepared statement, Michael Severino, vice chairman and president of AbbVie, said that the Phase 2 clinical trial for TNB-383B will test a 60 mg dose given every three weeks.

Photo by AbbVie