William Blair initiated research coverage of Genmab A/S (GMAB $43.50) and Janux Therapeutics, Inc. (JANX $16.95). Genmab’s R&D antibody engine has produced several blockbuster assets and significant royalty streams, providing funding for partnered and wholly owned assets. Janux Therapeutics is developing a pipeline of T-cell directed antibody therapies for immuno-oncology applications using the company’s proprietary TRACTr and TRACIr platforms.

In conjunction with the initiations, analyst Matt Phipps, Ph.D. published a second volume of his Getting Into (Bi)Specifics industry report looking at key features of bispecific antibodies. The report provides an in-depth look at T-cell engagers (TCEs), including TCEs developed through Genmab’s DuoBody platform and Janux’s TRACTr platform.

In his report on Janux, Dr. Phipps said, “Janux’s TRACTr platform represents a differentiated approach to TCE development designed to improve therapeutic windows and enable targeting antigens with broader expression. While the TCE class has seen significant success in hematologic malignancies with validated antigens, efficacy in solid tumors has been limited by pharmacokinetics, antidrug antibodies, and immune-mediated toxicities due to broad activation of T cells. We believe the cleavable peptide masks of the TRACTr platform will effectively limit on-target, off-tumor activity on healthy tissue. The addition of an albumin binding domain extends the half-life of intact TRACTrs while facilitating rapid elimination of the unmasked TRACTr in the periphery. Janux’s lead TRACTr program, JANX007, is designed to guide T cells to prostate cancer cells based on the expression of PSMA, a surface antigen overexpressed on more than 90% of prostate cancers; JANX007 recently entered clinical development with interim data expected in the second half of 2023. Janux’s second TRACTr, JANX008, targets EGFR with an IND filing expected before the end of 2022. Additional pipeline assets are also in development, setting the company up for continued expansion.”

Genmab, meanwhile, has multiple clinical candidates employing its technology in late-stage development. “Since its inception in 1999, Genmab has proved its capabilities as an R&D antibody powerhouse, with three approvals of out-licensed assets either at or well on their way to mega-blockbuster product status,” Dr. Phipps said. “We believe the mix of significant royalty revenue from blockbuster products—Darzalex, Tepezza, and Kesimpta, which we estimate have a combined CAGR of 18% over the next three years—provides significant cash flow for the company. However, we believe the focus is on the launch of partnered programs, including Tivdak and epcoritamab, as well as development of pipeline programs, namely GEN1046 and GEN3014. While Tivdak and epcoritamab show compelling profiles with longer-term upside from label expansion, initial commercial indications are limited and additional time will be needed for intriguing pipeline programs to take shape.”

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