Genmab to partner with Novartis on antibodies

Genmab, Novartis to develop bispecific antibodies for pair of disease targets

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark—Danishbiotechnology company Genmab A/S has announced a development agreement withNovartis, under which the two companies will use Genmab's DuoBody technologyplatform to create and develop bispecific antibodies.
Per the terms ofthe agreement, Genmab will create panels of bispecific antibodies to twodisease target combinations that Novartis has identified. All research work onthe programs will be fully funded by Novartis, and Genmab will receive anupfront payment of $2 million. If all milestones are met, the agreement couldhave a potential total of $175 million, plus research funding and royalties.
"We are verypleased to enter Genmab's second DuoBody technology collaboration, this timewith Novartis, a strong pharmaceutical collaborator. This brings us a stepfurther in realizing the value from our innovative bispecific antibodyplatform," Jan van de Winkel, Ph.D., CEO of Genmab, said in a press releaseregarding the deal.
Genmab's DuoBodyplatform is designed for the discovery and development of bispecific antibodiesthat may bolster antibody therapy of cancer, infectious, autoimmune or centralnervous system disease. Bispecific antibodies function by binding to twodifferent epitopes (the site on an antigen at which an antibody attaches)either on the same or on different targets, a process also known as dualtargeting. This approach has the potential to offer improved specificity andefficacy of antibodies in deactivating disease targets. DuoBody molecules, inaddition to combining bispecificity with conventional antibody strengths, canalso be administered and dosed as other antibody therapeutics. The platform'sprocess can be performed easily at a standard lab bench as well as on acommercial manufacturing scale. 
The agreement isthe second partnership based on Genmab's DuoBody platform. On December 20 oflast year, the company announced a research collaboration with an undisclosedpharma company to investigate a bispecific antibody-drug conjugate using theDuoBody platform and a novel antibody-drug conjugate technology platform fromthe partner company. The collaboration's target is clinically validated andexpressed on solid tumors. Should the collaboration prove successful, thecompanies may consider entering into a license agreement. No financial termswere disclosed.
The collaborations are two of the company's fourantibody-focused agreements currently in existence. Genmab also has apartnership underway with Seattle Genetics, a research collaboration announcedback in September 2010. Per the agreement, Genmab gained the rights to useSeattle Genetics' ADC technology with its HuMax-TF antibody targeting theTissue Factor antigen. The companies announced an expansion of theirpartnership on April 19, 2011, announcing that they had entered into a secondantibody-drug conjugate research collaboration. The new agreement grants Genmabthe right to use Seattle Genetics' ADC technology with HuMax-CD74, an antibodyin preclinical development to target CD74, which is expressed on a variety ofhematological malignancies as well as solid tumors.
Genmab is also partnering with H. Lundbeck A/S to develophuman antibody therapeutics for three targets identified by Lundbeck forcentral nervous system disorders. Lundbeck will gain access to Genmab'santibody development capabilities, and will have the option to take selectantibodies forward into clinical development at its own cost. Genmab has asimilar option for cancer indications. Genmab received an upfront payment ofapproximately $9.3 million, and if all milestones are met, stands to receive anapproximate total of $47.2 million, in addition to single-digit royalties.
Genmab announced the achievement of its second milestonein the Lundbeck collaboration on Feb. 10.

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