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Wyeth on biotech trail again

US company reaches agreement with Trubion to develop cancer and immune-system disorder drugs

Wyeth has agreed to develop and market antibody-like drugs with biotech firm Trubion Pharmaceuticals, in a deal which could be worth as much as $800m if certain research milestones are met.

Under the terms of the deal, Wyeth has agreed to pay Trubion $40m in an upfront payment. Wyeth has also agreed to pay undisclosed royalties from sales of any products that emerge from the collaboration.

ìWe were looking for a deal that put us at the cutting edge of the science,î Cavan Redmond, executive vice president for biopharmaceuticals at Wyeth, told the Wall Street Journal.

He added that Wyeth's expertise and capacity for production and drug development could ìbuild a greater assetî out of Trubion's unique and patented approach.

The deal will give Wyeth access to Trubion's experimental treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, TRU-015, which depletes immune-system cells involved in inflammation as well as some experimental cancer treatments. Trubion has yet to see one of its drugs reach the market.

The agreement complements two other biotech deals that Wyeth has made in the last month. Recently it has signed a pact with San Francisco-based Exelixis to develop metabolic and liver-disease treatments while another pact, made with Progenics Pharmaceuticals, will give Wyeth the rights to an experimental drug for constipation and other side effects from opioid painkillers.

Wyeth has agreed to take an unspecified equity stake in Trubion, if the company makes a public stock offering.

30th September 2008

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