Say ‘yes’ to nosocomial

MorphoSys and Daiichi Sankyo forge alliance to develop novel antibody therapies against hospital-acquired infections

Jeffrey Bouley
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MARTINSRIED, Germany—Marking the signing of MorphoSys AG'sfirst collaborator for HuCAL Platinum-based drug discovery in the area ofinfectious disease, MorphoSys announced recently that it is forming an alliancewith Japanese company Daiichi Sankyo Co. in the discovery and development of therapeuticantibodies for hospital-acquired (nosocomial) infections.
The terms of the deal call for MorphoSys and Daiichi Sankyoto collaboratively employ HuCAL Platinum, the latest and most powerful versionof MorphoSys' antibody libraries. The companies report that they will use bothtraditional and novel approaches to generate optimized, fully human therapeuticantibodies against targets associated with nosocomial infections. DaiichiSankyo will also commit to funding the development of certain infectiousdisease specific technology at MorphoSys, which will be used to identify themost effective antibody-based drugs.
Although specific numbers haven't been made public, thecompanies note that total payments under the agreement include committedlicense fees and research and development funding, as well as success-baseddevelopment milestones. MorphoSys also stands to receive royalties on sales ofmarketed drugs emerging from the collaboration.
"This is another landmark deal for MorphoSys and is ourfirst initiative in the infectious disease arena," says Dr. Simon Moroney, CEOof MorphoSys. "[This] is proof that MorphoSys can tap new growth opportunitiesin the therapeutic antibody field on top of the established partnerships thecompany has in place. We see lucrative opportunities for our new HuCAL Platinumtechnology in the infectious disease field, which we intend to exploit withinselected partnerships in the years ahead."
The companies note that there is a large, unmet need foreffective, long-lasting drugs against pathogens in difficult-to-treatnosocomial infections. Currently, mortality rates in the specific area of focussit at somewhere between 40 percent and 60 percent, due primarily to resistanceto existing antibiotics. The global market for drugs targeted solely atbloodstream infections and hospital-acquired pneumonia is estimated to exceed$1 billion.
This isn't the first time that MorphoSys and Daiichi Sankyohave worked together. They started collaborating in 2006 and that work, todate, has resulted in four active therapeutic antibody programs, mainly inoncology.
Moroney says the new agreement is "built on the strongexisting relationship between the partners."
However, Chris Morrison at The In Vivo Blog, in analyzing the deal as part of the Oct 23 "Dealsof the Week" blog post, notes that he and his fellow In Vivo Blog commentators didn't really expect MorphoSys to signan antibody discovery and development alliance like this. And that is becausethe 10-year discovery and development deal MorphoSys signed with Novartis inDecember 2007 is designed, as Morrison notes, "to eventually replace MorphoSys'existing discovery deals as those alliances expire."
he Novartis deal included committed payments in excess of$600 million over the lifetime of the agreement, with further potential forsignificant additional milestones, profit sharing and/or royalty payments basedon products emerging from the collaboration. Not to mention the fact MorphoSysobtained certain co-development rights for selected programs and rights toco-detail the resulting products in specific territories through creation ofits own sales force.
"Eventually, Novartis will become MorphoSys' exclusive discovery partnerin nearly all therapeutic areas, so we thought new discovery deals were off themenu," Morrison wrote. But he did point out that the Novartis deal specificallyexcluded infectious diseases, so even as lucrative as it was, it left MorphoSysan opportunity—one that it has clearly capitalized on.

Jeffrey Bouley

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