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.