BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS - MAT Biotech and Laboratoires Servier entered a research collaboration for monoclonal antibodies.

The companies are to undertake a joint research program aimed at coupling the anti-ferritin monoclonal antibody, AMB8LK, of MAT Biotech, with a Vinca alkaloid-type cytotoxic molecule discovered by Servier. The financial terms were not disclosed.

The aim is to develop a new therapeutic compound for the specific treatment of certain cancers, such as solid tumors, pancreatic and liver cancer, and Hodgkin's disease. Servier, of Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, also specializes in cardiovascular disease, central nervous system disorders, diabetes and rheumatology (including bone diseases).

MAT Biotech is specialized in monoclonal antibodies for hematological pathologies such as Hodgkin's disease, acute myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphoid leukemia, as well as some cancers (liver and pancreatic). It was founded in early 2000 and is based at the Genopole biotechnology science and business park at Evry.

Its lead product is a first-generation polyclonal antibody, Yttrium 90 (human anti-ferritin IgG), which MAT is developing for Hodgkin's disease and for which it was granted orphan drug status in Europe in 2003. MAT now is waiting for the go-ahead from the European Medicines Evaluation Agency, which is evaluating the drug, to initiate a Phase II trial.

Administrative manager of MAT, Michel Barbelanne, told BioWorld International that the company expected to initiate the trial some time in 2005. It would be carried out at the Curie Institute in Paris and Nantes Hospital in western France.

MAT also has developed and patented second-generation, anti-ferritin monoclonal antibodies, which could help cancer patients benefiting from radio-immunotherapy, including those with liver cancer or adenoma carcinoma of the pancreas. In addition, the company is developing anti-ED8 monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of breast cancer and new therapeutic antibodies that link to the surface differentiation antigen CD44 to reverse the blockage of cell differentiation in acute myeloid leukemia.

MAT Biotech's antibodies are underpinned by an integrated technology platform that comprises facilities for high-throughput screening of high-performance therapeutic antibodies, along with a proteomics-based antigen-identification system.

MAT completed a second funding round in December in which it raised €1.7 million from iXCore, the investment vehicle of an anonymous French business angel. The same investor provided the company with its first-round financing of €1.25 million in November 2002. Barbelanne said MAT now has sufficient funds to see it through its planned Phase II trial.

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