ONCOMAB/MEDAREX TO DEVELOP/COMMERCIALIZE CANCER ANTIBODIES.
In 2002 Prima BioMed announced exciting results in mice that demonstrated the effectiveness of a tumor targeting antibody against human breast, colon and prostate cancer cell lines. The Oncomab Medarex collaboration is expected to generate a fully human antibody targeted to a non-disclosed tumor specific protein and drive it through clinical trials. This work is expected to improve the effectiveness of the potential product and reduce the risk of adverse effects associated with rodent derived antibodies.
New Jersey-based Medarex is a leader in fully human antibody technology and development with a market capitalization of $US 225m, approximately 400 employees and roughly $US 350 million in cash and ten antibodies based on Medarex's technology in clinical development.
Marcus Clark, CEO of Prima BioMed said "While mass production of monoclonal antibodies was first demonstrated in 1975, it is only in the past three to five years that the US FDA has approved an increasing number of antibodies as human therapeutics. Due to advances in humanisation technology, antibody therapies have rapidly come of age as the most important new treatment technology. Antibody therapies have surpassed $US 3 billion in worldwide sales in 2001."
"Antibodies bind to specific target molecules, making them highly precise and generally less toxic than most other classes of therapeutics. The Oncomab technology targets a protein that is preferentially expressed on a broad range of tumor types. By targeting this tumor protein the antibody may be developed into a product that causes tumor cell death.
"Prima BioMed exercised rights over cancer antibody technology from the Austin Research Institute (ARI), Melbourne, Australia and securing a partner to humanize the antibody was a key part of our development program. This deal with Medarex is the result of six months of internal review of international companies with patented technology to generate human antibodies. We believe we have an exceptional target and it was therefore important to select the company that shares a sense of this position and provided the priority we were seeking," stated Clark.
"Oncomab and Medarex have formed a Joint Steering Committee that is currently finalizing a product development program for joint research activities at Medarex and Oncomab's Melbourne laboratories based at the Austin Research Institute. Medarex will undertake immunization of its transgenic mice; experiments to test the resulting human antibodies are currently being optimized in Melbourne by the scientists at the ARI. The collaboration aims to generate fully human antibodies to the tumor antigen and expects to analyze those antibodies during 2003. Medarex's collaborative approach to the development ensures that our scientists continue to be intimately involved in the program and contribute the expertise generated in the earlier work conducted at the ARI" said Clark.
"Under the terms of the agreement, Oncomab and Medarex expect to share equally the costs of, as well as any future revenues arising from, the development of any antibody products. The decision by Medarex to commit its own money to the program and bear 50% of the risk is a very strong endorsement of the quality of the science and the attractiveness of the cancer protein to which the antibody binds and has its effect."
Medarex's senior director of business development, Annarie Lyles PhD, has recently been in Australia to cultivate the agreement with Prima BioMed.
About the Tumor Antigen
The tumor antigen that is targeted in this project is a protein found on the surface of cancer cells. It appears to be an important regulator of tumor cell survival and interfering with the tumor antigen's activity results in the death of cancer cells. Its preferential expression by cancer tissues makes it an ideal target for antibody therapy, as the antibodies are unlikely to bind to and destroy normal tissues. This tumor antigen is expressed on a wide variety of solid tumors (breast, lung, colon, ovarian, prostate) as well as on lymphomas. These multiple indications provide for a potentially large market opportunity.
The ARI has developed a series of antibodies that bind to the tumor antigen protein associated with cancer and inhibit the survival of tumor cells as well as inducing apoptosis (a form of cell death) in tumor cells. Studies conducted in mice have shown that the antibodies are effective at both preventing the formation of tumors and also at eradicating existing tumors.
About Prima BioMed
Based in Melbourne, Prima BioMed (ASX: PRR) is a biotechnology company with a focus on developing and commercializing technology arising from the field of immunology and cancer immunotherapy that shows potential for commercial returns within three to four years. Prima BioMed holds first and last rights over such technologies from the Austin Research Institute. Prima has three cancer strategies. The antibody therapy, a cell-based therapy system which stimulates patient's immune cells to fight cancer and a vaccine development. These approaches are complementary and represent a sound business focus as cancer remains the therapeutic area with the quickest path to market.
For more information, visit http://www.primabiomed.com.au.
About Medarex Inc.
Medarex is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of therapeutics to treat life-threatening and debilitating diseases. Medarex's UltiMAb Human Antibody Development SystemSM is a unique combination of human antibody technologies that Medarex believes enables the rapid creation and development of fully human antibodies for a wide range of potential disease targets for therapeutic antibody products, including products for the treatment of cancer, inflammation, autoimmune and infectious diseases. Medarex's product pipeline is based on a variety of therapeutic antibody products developed through the use of its UltiMAb(tm) technology. Medarex creates and develops fully human antibodies for itself and others, offering a full range of antibody related capabilities, including pre-clinical and clinical development supported by cGMP manufacturing services.
For more information, visit http://www.medarex.com.
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|Date:||May 1, 2003|
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