GENETICS INSTITUTE/NEORx MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY AGREEMENT
GENETICS INSTITUTE/NEORx MONOCLONAL ANTIBODY AGREEMENT will focus on cancer therapy and include the development of monoclonal antibodies in combination with protein immune modulators, the two companies announced in a joint press release May 4. "Genetics Institute and NeoRx plan to develop cancer therapeutics based on an approach which uses certain classes of monoclonal antibodies to identify tumor cells as targets for destruction by white blood cells of the body's own immune system," the release states. "This approach differs from other experimental approaches to cancer therapy which employ monoclonal antibodies as agents to target cytotoxic drugs, toxins, or radioisotopes to the cancers." At the same time Genetics Institute is acquiring an equity position in Seattle-based NeoRx. The firms announced that under a separate agreement, Genetics Institute has purchased a 5.6% interest in the monoclonal firm for $7.5 mil. Almost a year ago, Kodak entered a similar development agreement with NeoRx and acquired 12% of the privately held firm for $13 mil. Under the agreement with Genetics Institute, NeoRx is committed for a two-year period to develop monoclonal antibodies with potential application for the two companies' joint approach to cancer therapy. Both firms, the release notes, are committed to co-fund preclinical and clinical development of selected monoclonal antibodies -- "possibly in combination with protein immune modulators." The first such combo could enter clinical study before the end of the year, the companies said. One Genetics Institute immune modulator likely to be targeted for initial development is granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor. The product, which has been licensed to Sandoz, is currently in U.S. clinical trials (see related story, p. 14). Other protein immune modulators under development by Genetics Institute include interleukin-3 and macrophage colony stimulating factor. In exchange for licensing and royalty payments to NeoRx, Genetics Institute will receive manufacturing and marketing rights to monoclonal antibody products developed during the two-year period along with rights to exsiting monoclonal antibodies that might be applicable to the firms' joint approach. The monoclonal antibodies may be marketed either alone or in combination with immune modulators, according to the release.
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