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AstraZeneca and Amgen forge antibody alliance

Deal could lead to "important treatments across multiple indications in inflammatory disease"

AstraZeneca (AZ) has licensed a series of antibodies with potential in inflammatory diseases from US biotech major Amgen in a deal that includes upfront fees of $50m.

All told, AZ gains joint development and commercialisation rights to five Amgen antibodies which it says "offer the potential to deliver important treatments across multiple indications in inflammatory diseases".

The two companies will share costs and profits from the programmes, with AZ paying around two-thirds of the costs until 2014, and 50 per cent thereafter.

Heading the pack of antibodies is brodalumab (AMG 827), an anti-IL17 antibody that will shortly enter phase III testing in psoriasis and is in phase II for psoriatic arthritis and asthma.

Amgen is in a race to market in the anti-IL17 sector with Eli Lilly, which recently reported phase II data for rival antibody ixekizumab in psoriasis.

Amgen will take the lead on the brodalumab programme and has an existing licensing agreement with Japan's Kyowa Hakko Kirin for the antibody which is unaffected by the AZ deal.

If it wins through to market, Amgen will promote brodalumab in dermatology indications in the US and Canada, and in rheumatology indications in the US, Canada and Europe. Meanwhile AZ will promote the antibody in respiratory and in dermatology indications in all other territories.

Allocation of promotion rights for other territories, indications and molecules will be agreed later between the companies.

AstraZeneca takes the lead on the three other antibodies, all of which are in phase I development:

• AMG 139 neutralises IL-23 interaction with its receptor while sparing IL-12 and is currently being tested in Crohn's disease
• AMG 157 blocks the interaction of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) with the TSLP receptor and has potential in asthma
• AMG 181 is an anti-alpha4/beta7 antibody in testing for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Meanwhile, Amgen will lead the development of AMG 557, an antibody that binds to the B7 related protein (B7RP-1) and is being investigated in phase Ib for its utility in autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus.

Once again, Amgen has a prior licensing agreement with Takeda which is unaffected by the new alliance.

4th April 2012

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