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MorphoSys and Astellas enter antibody partnership

MorphoSys, and Japanese pharmaceutical company, Astellas, have entered into a license agreement for the use of MorphoSys' HuCAL technology.

German biotechnology company, MorphoSys, and Japanese pharmaceutical company, Astellas, have entered into a license agreement for the use of MorphoSys's HuCAL technology.

MorphoSys will grant Astellas access to its HuCAL GOLD antibody library for use in its internal pharmaceutical drug discovery programmes. MorphoSys stands to receive an up-front payment and annual user fees during the lifespan of the agreement.

During the term of the agreement, Astellas will have access to MorphoSys' Combinatorial Antibody (HuCAL) GOLD library at its research site in Tsukuba, Japan. Astellas also has the option to start antibody projects during the life time of the agreement.

HuCAL is a collection of more than 10bn distinct fully human antibodies and can fully human antibodies, an essential differentiating feature compared to other human antibody generation technologies, and one which is of significant value.

By constructing the HuCAL genes totally through chemical synthesis, MorphoSys' technology provides complete control over amino acid composition of the protein library, avoidance of undesired amino acids (including stop codons), increased percentage of functional antibodies in a library and increased efficiency in expression.

Under the optional collaboration component of the alliance, MorphoSys will use its HuCAL GOLD antibody library to generate novel HuCAL antibodies against targets provided by Astellas.

Astellas will now be responsible for preclinical and clinical development of these compounds, as well as the following marketing of resulting products. For projects initiated under the collaboration, MorphoSys will receive research funding, as well as licensing and milestone payments, including royalties on end-product sales. The agreement may last up to five years.

Dr Simon Moroney, MorphoSys' CEO, said: "Today's deal adds another representative of Japan's leading pharmaceutical companies to MorphoSys's roster of partners and increases at the same time our market share among the 20 largest drug makers worldwide. This new therapeutic partnership with Astellas once again shows the potential for innovative technology such as our HuCAL GOLD antibody library in Japan - a market we set out to explore just some 24 months ago."

Televancin and micafungin show positive effect against MRSA and Candida...
In other news, Astellas presented the results of clinical data which showed that its antibiotic telavancin and antifungal micafungin both have the potential to meet a significant unmet need in the fight against serious hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Phase III data from the ATLAS 1 and ATLAS 2 trials were presented at the 17th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID), held in Munich from 31 March and 3 April 2007, and showed that telavancin, a novel, rapidly bactericidal lipoglycopeptide with activity against Gram-positive bacteria, was found to be effective for the treatment of patients with complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSIs), including those caused by MRSA.

Telavancin is currently undergoing regulatory review at the FDA and possesses a multivalent, multifunctional mode of action which inhibits bacterial cell wall synthesis and disrupts the functional integrity of the bacterial cell membrane.

Micafungin data presented showed that the treatment demonstrated broad-spectrum efficacy against Candida infections. Results showed that in adult patients with deep, invasive Candida, micafungin was associated with efficacy comparable with established treatments, liposomal amphotericin B (L-AmB) and intravenous caspofungin, and that there were significant safety advantages of micafungin over L-AmB in terms of a difference in acute infusion related reactions and Estimated Glomerular Filtration Rate (eGFR).

Also, micafungin was as effective as standard therapy with AmBisome (L-AmB) in patients with invasive candidiasis or candidaemia. Fewer patients experienced treatment-related adverse events and fewer discontinuations.

Micafungin is currently undergoing clinical evaluation at the EMEA. Micafungin is licensed in the US for the treatment of oesophageal candidiasis and for the prophylaxis of fungal infections caused by Candida in patients who are undergoing a haematopoietic stem cell transplant.

Commenting on the data presented, Dr John Bolodeoku, European Senior Medical Director at Astellas, said: "Effective prevention and treatment strategies for serious hospital acquired infections represent a significant challenge in healthcare. Astellas look forward to supporting healthcare professionals in their fight against these often fatal infections."

4th April 2007


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