CAT and Molecular Partners sign cross-license deal

Both parties obtain “substantial freedom” to conduct research under certain of each other’s IP and develop therapeutic, prophylactic and diagnostic products.

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CAMBRIDGE, U.K.—Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) is teaming up with Swiss biotechnology company Molecular Partners via a cross-license agreement under which both parties obtain "substantial freedom" to conduct research under certain of each other's intel­lectual property, as well as the right to develop thera­peutic, prophylactic and diagnostic products. This fol­lows closely on the heels of a similar deal CAT signed with German biotech Scil Proteins GmbH in mid-July.
Both deals are "important additions to our continuing commitment to increasing the range of technologies that CAT can apply to the devel­opment and commercializa­tion of biologics and thera­peutic proteins," says Dr. Alex Duncan, CAT's senior VP for discovery. The aim of the deals, he adds, is for CAT to offer rights to intellectual property in the Ribosome Display technology that it controls, in return for adding the partner companies' technolo­gies to its own arsenal.
In the case of the earlier deal with Scil, CAT obtained access to Scil Proteins' Affilin technology—a proprietary scaffold technology in the area of therapeutic indica­tions. For Molecular Partners deal, CAT gains access to Molecular Partners' proprietary Designed Repeat Protein (DRP) technology.
Under the terms of the agree­ment, Molecular Partners can use CAT's Ribosome Display intel­lectual property to develop an unlimited number of DRP prod­ucts for biotechnological tests and reagents, diagnostic tests and reagents, and therapeutics in all fields. In addition, Molecular Partners receives the right to sub­license the Ribosome Display tech­nology with the DRP technology to third parties.
In turn, CAT obtains the right under the Molecular Partners patents to develop and commer­cialize products using Molecular Partners' DRP technology, includ­ing the right to sublicense these products to collaboration partners. The companies released no finan­cial details about the deal.
"We are already a leader in the discovery and development of human therapeutic antibodies because of the platform technol­ogy we offer for rapidly isolat­ing human monoclonal antibod­ies using our phage display and ribosome display technologies," Duncan says. "Working with com­panies like Molecular Partners simply strengthens that leadership position. CAT gains access to novel protein technologies, benefits from an exchange of intellectual prop­erty and gets the ability to work more closely with a new company in an exciting area."
Molecular Partners is engaged in the discovery and development of DARPins, a novel class of bind­ing proteins based on DRPs that can be used for a range of applica­tions, including therapy and diag­nostics. Molecular Partners has successfully generated DARPins against more than 20 disease tar­gets, including cell surface recep­tors, cytokines, proteases, kinases and viral coat proteins.
Dr. Patrick Amstutz, executive director of Molecular Partners, believes the deal will enhance both his company's ability to do its work and to attract other partners.
"This cross-licence agreement with CAT [enables] Molecular Partners to select DARPins with Ribosome Display to any given tar­get for every possible application," Amstutz says. "This freedom to operate makes Molecular Partners a highly attractive partner for all companies interested in novel binding proteins for therapeutic or diagnostic applications."

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