OBT, easy as ADC

Oxford BioTherapeutics and Menarini Group co-develop antibody-based cancer drugs

Lloyd Dunlap
Oxford, U.K.—Oxford BioTherapeutics (OBT) and Menarini Grouphave formed a strategic alliance to develop a portfolio of antibody-basedanticancer drugs. The agreement covers five of OBT's antibody and antibody-drugconjugate (ADC) programs, each of which addresses a different cancer indicationvia a different novel oncology target.
 
The deal brings together OBT's discovery expertise withMenarini's clinical knowledge and expanding capabilities in the manufacture anddevelopment of biologics to build value for both companies as they work tobring a portfolio of next-generation antibody-based cancer drugs to market.
 
Menarini is an international pharmaceutical company that,with a 2011 consolidated worldwide turnover of more than $3.8 billion, ranks17th in Europe and 34th worldwide. The company covers more than 100 countriesin Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America, with 15,000 employees.Menarini was founded 125 years ago and currently markets products in the mostimportant therapeutic areas: respiratory, cardiovascular, gastroenterology,oncology, metabolism, antibiotics, diabetes, anti-inflammatories andanalgesics.
 
 
Under the collaboration, Menarini will lead the efforts inthe manufacture and clinical development of each program, supported by OBT,while OBT will provide the proprietary cancer target, antibody and armingtechnologies.
 
 
"OBT is responsible for the discovery and selection of thedevelopment candidates," says OBT CEO Christian Rohlff. "Menarini will thenlead the development of the selected antibodies or ADCs through clinicalproof-of-concept studies. OBT will conduct certain activities during thisdevelopment phase, and then both companies may continue clinical developmentand commercialization in separate territories."
 
Once clinical proof of concept has been achieved, OBT willcomplete the clinical development and commercialize the novel antibody-basedproducts in North America and Japan, while Menarini will develop andcommercialize the products in Europe, CIS, Asia and Latin America.
 
 
"I am delighted to collaborate with Menarini, a company thathas made impressive achievements in biologics development and demonstrated anenduring commitment to the development of innovative cancer therapies," Rohlffstates. "This creative alliance is transformational for us, as it allows OBT toparticipate in the clinical development and future commercialization of ourprograms, while at the same time it bolsters Menarini's pipeline with aportfolio of the next generation of cancer drugs. We believe this innovativebusiness framework could become the business model of choice for rapidlygrowing biotechnology companies seeking new ways to develop their drug pipelineeffectively."
 
OBT's recently established development operation in Basel,Switzerland, under the direction of chief operating officer Dr. Esteban Pombo,will play a central role in supporting the new collaboration.
 
"The Basel operation was set up to lead the clinicaldevelopment of OBT's programs," Rohlff notes. "The unit will work closely withMenarini to lead a coordinated development strategy for the partnered programs,and will lead the development activities which fall under OBT'sresponsibilities."
 
 
Oxford BioTherapeutics was known as Oxford Genome Sciencesuntil a name change in December 2008, "reflecting the company's focus ondelivering innovative and cost-effective first-in-class medicines to fulfillmajor unmet patient needs in the field of cancer," Rohlff observes. OBT hassince put in place a number of strategic and enabling partnerships withworld-leading biopharmaceutical companies, including Seattle Genetics,Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (Medarex), Amgen, Alere (formerly Biosite),GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Sanofi, providing access to the most advanced antibodytechnologies, and enabling OBT to convert its novel oncology targets into ahighly attractive pipeline of therapeutic antibodies.
 
 
OBT has also significantly expanded its operations,establishing a U.S. team in San Jose, Calif., focused on therapeutic antibodydevelopment under the direction of Dr. Jon Terrett, chief scientific officer,in addition to launching its operations in Basel, says Rohlff.
 
 
Alberto Giovanni Aleotti, a member of Menarini's board ofdirectors, adds, "we are eager to start our collaboration with OBT, an oncologycompany with a proven track record of generating innovative antibody-basedcancer drug candidates that are designed to address high unmet medical needs. Iam very pleased that this novel strategic alliance, which foresees the developmentand manufacture of up to five cancer treatment programs and a total investmentof 800 million Euros, will enable us to further demonstrate our deep andlong-standing commitment to the fight against cancer, which has always beencrucial to Menarini's overall corporate mission."
 
 
No additional financial details were released.

Lloyd Dunlap

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