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Compugen licenses novel oncology target to Seattle Genetics

TEL AVIV, Israel—Compugen Ltd. has taken the wraps off aresearch collaboration agreement with Seattle Genetics Inc., covering aCompugen-discovered oncology target.
The agreement provides Seattle Genetics with an initialevaluation period and an option for an exclusive worldwide milestone androyalty-bearing license for development and commercialization of monoclonalantibody therapeutics addressing this novel target.
Eric Dobmeier, chief business officer for Seattle Genetics,points out that Compugen has a proprietary approach to identifying noveloncology targets.
"Under the collaboration, Seattle Genetics has an exclusiveresearch license to evaluate monoclonal antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates(ADCs) targeted to Compugen's target, and has an option to take an exclusivecommercial license," he says. "Seattle Genetics became interested in thistarget due to its high expression on multiple solid tumors and restrictedexpression on normal tissues, as well as Compugen's intellectual propertyposition."
Financial terms of the agreement have not been released.
"We are very enthusiastic about this new collaboration, ourfirst with Seattle Genetics, a leading company in the rapidly growing field ofmonoclonal antibodies and antibody drug conjugates," says Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag,president and CEO of Compugen. "The Compugen novel target that is the subjectof this agreement has shown potential in a number of important unmet areas ofcancer treatment."
According to Cohen-Dayag, that target has shown potential ina number of important unmet areas of cancer treatment, and therefore could fitthe pipelines of various pharma and biotech companies in the field ofmononclonal antibody therapeutics for cancer.
"The predicted molecule's existence and overexpression wasdemonstrated by Compugen in several of the most prevalent solid cancers inindependent experimentally based studies," she adds.
The existence of the target, which is a previously unknownsplice variant of a known oncology target, was initially predicted in silico through the use of Compugen's Monoclonal Antibody(mAb) Targets Discovery Platform. The predicted molecule's existence andoverexpression in several of the most prevalent solid cancers was recentlydemonstrated in independent experimentally based studies.
Cohen-Dayag adds that Compugen has been pleased to see thecontinuing and growing interest of the industry with respect to its mAb TargetsDiscovery Platform.
"This unique capability, which addresses the key unmetmarket need in the rapidly growing antibody therapeutic field, is now servingas both the source of targets for collaborations, such as the one beingannounced today and our ongoing collaboration with Bayer Schering Pharma, and alsoto predict and select, in combination with other Compugen tools andcapabilities, an inventory of potential targets for further internaldevelopment," she says.
The platform itself is not part of the agreement, nor is anyother component of Compugen's discovery capabilities.
"As in all of Compugen's collaborations, the onlydeliverable from us is IP in the form of novel drug or diagnostic productcandidates for which we will be entitled to receive future developmentmilestone payments and royalties on commercialization," Cohen-Dayag explains."Unfortunately, this continues to be an area of misunderstanding regardingCompugen within the financial community and even with some of our potentialpartners in the biopharma industry. We often see ourselves referred to as abioinformatics, service or tools company, all of which are incorrect. We are adrug and diagnostic candidate discovery company, with our proprietary discoverycapabilities based on computational modeling of key biological phenomena at themolecular level and then the integration of these models for predictivediscovery of product candidates in each field of focus."
Compugen chairman Martin Gerstel says the company's businessmodel provides three potential pathways for development and commercializationof its product candidate discoveries.
"Collaborations can be entered into before our predictionand selection of candidates is undertaken pursuant to 'discovery-on-demand'agreements, or with respect to existing Compugen product candidates, collaborationscan be initiated prior to or at the proof-of -concept stage, or afteradditional preclinical activities have been undertaken by us," he says. "In allcases, these agreements provide Compugen with potential milestone payments androyalties on product sales or other revenue sharing arrangements. The decisionas to which pathway we choose in each specific case will depend on manyfactors, such as proprietary knowledge or technology of a potential partnerthat could expedite and increase the probability of success of development orcommercialization; the anticipated overall relationship with the potentialpartner; our assessment of the risk/reward profile of further development byus; and available financial terms at each point in time."
Cohen-Dayag notes that in view of Compugen's systematic andbroadly applicable discovery capability, and the company's mission of being theleader in providing product candidates for development within the drug anddiagnostic industries, it has two very important—but different—measures forsuccess with respect to this first agreement with Seattle Genetics. 
"First is, of course, success in the development andcommercialization of mAB products based on the collaboration target,"Cohen-Dayag concludes. "The second measure is success in establishing anefficiently functioning and mutually supportive working relationship betweenthe scientists at the two companies."

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