Protein power

Celera issues licenses for five oncology targets to Bayer Schering Pharma

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ALAMEDA, Calif.—Celera Corp. has announced an exclusive license agreement providing Berlin-based Bayer Schering Pharma AG with access to five cancer-related targets for therapeutic development and in vivo diagnostic imaging. These therapeutic targets are over-expressed on the surface of several different tumor cell types and were identified using Celera's proteomics discovery platform.

Janine Tychsen, a spokesperson for Bayer Schering Pharma, says that the therapeutic and diagnostic applications are of equal importance to her company. She was unable to disclose any information about the five targets aside from the fact they involve oncology and they are early-stage projects.

"This agreement allows us to expand our existing research portfolio in the area of cancer-related targets," says Dr. Khusru Asadullah, head of Target Discovery at Bayer Schering Pharma. "We look forward to exploring the full potential of these promising target candidates with regard to therapeutic interference for anti-tumor therapy as well as in in vivo diagnostic imaging."

Under the terms of the agreement, Bayer Schering Pharma will pay Celera a one-time fee for the exclusive access to the five targets. Additional payments are due upon achievement of certain development and commercial milestones, and if a product is commercialized Celera will be entitled to royalties based on net sales of that product.

However, while it licensed the in vivo diagnostic rights, Celera retains in vitro diagnostic rights, should the company decide to develop and commercialize related companion in vitro diagnostics that are specific to therapeutic candidates arising from Bayer Schering Pharma's program.

"We are not looking at pursuing any kind of therapeutic targets," notes Dr. David Speechly, vice president of corporate affairs at Celera. "We are firmly focused on molecular and in vitro diagnostics for genomic, proteomic and other applications. The potential power of proteins as a diagnostic tool in diseases like cancer is something that we are quite excited about—not just the ability to identify therapeutic targets but to do things like more broadly determine disease progress and monitor that."

"This agreement combines the strength of our novel proteomics target discovery platform with Bayer Schering Pharma's expertise in research and development," notes Dr. Steve Ruben, vice president of proteomic research at Celera. "We believe this new relationship with Bayer Schering Pharma allows us the flexibility to advance part of our broad pipeline of validated targets for additional future value."

The original discussions for the licensing deal began with Bayer Schering Pharma approaching Celera based on the fact that the latter company "owns know-how and patent applications on several innovative antibody target candidates for oncology and diagnostic imaging," Tychsen says.

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