Drug company buys antibody firm.
A small company that has been the leader in developing medical diagnostic tests using monoclonal antibodies has been purchased by a major drug company, Eli Lilly and Co. of Indianapolis, for more than $300 million. Hybritech, Inc., a San Diego firm that is one of the most financially successful of the specialized biotechnology companies, produces and markets diagnostic tests for a variety of conditions including colon and prostate cancer, infertility, allergies and pregnancy (SN: 5/7/83, p. 296). The company is also exploring the use of monoclonal antibodies in therepy against infectious diseases. The acquisition, still subject to Hybritech stockholder approval, moves Lilly into the rapidly growing diagnostic business and bolsters its research efforts toward using monoclonal antibodies to treat certain cancers. Monoclonal antibodies are very pure antibodies that bind to a single specific target.
Hybritech recently received a setback when its broad patent on a monoclonal antibody method, widely used in making diagnostic and medical monitoring tests, was ruled to be invalid by a federal district court in San Francisco. Hybritech announced that it plans to appeal that decision.