BioWorld International Correspondent

PanGenetics BV made two additions to its antibody development pipeline in successive weeks, in-licensing a molecule from LayLine Genomics SpA that's in development for pain, and a drug candidate from Schering-Plough Corp. that targets an undisclosed indication.

Terms between Utrecht, the Netherlands-based PanGenetics and Rome-based LayLine Genomics (LLG) were not disclosed, but the latter company is receiving an up-front payment, research funding, development milestones and royalties on eventual product sales.

Kenilworth, N.J.-based Schering-Plough has acquired an equity stake in PanGenetics as part of their licensing deal. PanGenetics will undertake additional preclinical and early clinical development work. Schering-Plough has retained an option to take on full responsibility for developing the molecule, now called PG130, after a proof-of-concept study or to enter a co-development alliance with PanGenetics.

The latter firm would be entitled to receive up to $50 million in up-front and milestone payments. It also has gained an option to in-license a second antibody from Schering-Plough's portfolio.

The LLG product, Hu-alpha D11, is a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds the peptide nerve growth factor (NGF) and blocks its interaction with its two receptors, TrkA and p75. The molecule, now called PG110, is on course to enter the clinic in 2008, putting it behind RN624, another NGF-blocking humanized monoclonal antibody now owned by New York-based Pfizer Inc., following its acquisition of South San Francisco based Rinat Neuroscience Corp.

The latter drug candidate is undergoing a Phase II trial, but PG110, which binds a different epitope on NGF, has shown promising preclinical activity that justifies further development, PanGenetics' senior vice president of business development, Arnoud Dijsktra, told BioWorld International.

PG130 is on a similar development timeline, but PanGenetics is not disclosing details until the compound generates a key piece of additional preclinical data and secures associated intellectual property. "This information is going to shape the clinical trajectory," Dijsktra said.

The two deals take to five the total number of antibodies in the PanGenetics portfolio. The company has defined a business model around taking antibodies from preclinical development through clinical proof-of-concept, before licensing them on. "Our business model is scaleable. We are definitely on the lookout for more good opportunities," Dijkstra said.

The company raised €13 million (US$15.6 million) in a Series B round earlier this year and will seek further investment next year to fund its additional pipeline commitments, Dijkstra said. "Currently, we have a very good cash base and also a very dedicated investor syndicate, which is very committed to further investing in the company," he said.