SMITHKLINE BEECHAM INVESTING UP TO $30 MIL. IN IDEC’s ANTI- CD4 MAb ARTHRITIS TREATMENT
SMITHKLINE BEECHAM INVESTING UP TO $30 MIL. IN IDEC's ANTI- CD4 MAb ARTHRITIS TREATMENT and other potential products based on IDEC Pharmaceutical's "primatized" antibody research, the two firms announced Oct. 14. SmithKline Beecham and IDEC will collaborate on the development and commercialization of primatized antibodies (part human, part macaque monkey) to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases, with the initial goal of producing a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. SmithKline does not currently have an arthritis drug in development. As part of the deal, IDEC will receive milestone payments that could exceed $30 mil. SmithKline Beecham will provide an undisclosed amount of R&D funding. In addition, the company's S.R. One venture capital subsidiary will also purchase $2.4 mil. worth of IDEC common stock. An additional investment in the form of $3 warrants for up to 400,000 shares of IDEC stock at $12 per share is dependent upon FDA approval to begin clinical studies of the primatized antibody. IDEC expects to begin clinical trials of its primatized anti- CD4 antibody for rhematoid arthritis during the first half of 1993, the firm said. The agreement calls for IDEC to focus on preclinical development, provide initial supplies of clinical- grade antibody and conduct the initial studies on humans. SmithKline Beecham will participate directly in the later stages of development, joining in at the Phase II or Phase III level. The objective of the collaboration is to develop products "to treat chronic diseases that could require long-term therapy," IDEC said. In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, the two firms will explore the possibility of treatments for systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. In contrast to mouse monoclonal antibodies and chimeric (part human, part mouse) antibodies, IDEC's primatized antibodies do not contain mouse components that could trigger an HAMA (human anti- mouse antibody) response, IDEC noted. The primatized antibodies have the potential to function "more naturally or fully in the immune system" and, therefore, could be more useful in treating chronic diseases that require continual therapy, the company believes. IDEC said its research indicates that the macaque monkey is "genetically so close to humans that it produces antibodies that are structurally indistinguishable from human antibodies in their variable regions (areas that attach to disease-causing antigens)" while also being genetically distant enough to produce antibodies against human antigens. IDEC said it found that the macaque can be immunized to make antibodies "that react with human, but not macaque, antigens and pose no apparent risk to the monkey." The primatized anti-CD4 antibody that is the foundation of the SmithKline/IDEC agreement was derived by immunizing macaques with the human CD4 antigen and harvesting the resulting antibody- producing immune cells. IDEC then isolated the gene responsible for producing the anti-CD4 antibody and produced lab-scale quantities in cell culture. IDEC and SmithKline Beecham will co-promote any products resulting from the collaboration in the U.S. and Canada. SmithKline will have exclusive rights in Europe and some other foreign markets and will pay royalties to IDEC. The agreement is the first between the two companies. La Jolla, Calif.-based IDEC has an agreement with Boehringer Ingelheim for its SPECIFID panel of anti-idiotype antibodies and is seeking additional partners for its other antibody programs ("The Pink Sheet" July 8, 1991, T&G-6). The firm netted $47.2 mil. from its initial public offering in September 1991; no financings have been completed since that time.
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