Washington Editor

Seattle Genetics Inc. and Celera Genomics Group entered a collaboration to discover and develop antibody-based therapies for cancer.

Clay Siegall, president and CEO of Bothell, Wash.-based Seattle Genetics, told BioWorld Today the arrangement is a multiyear deal that provides the partners with enough time to discover, develop, test and possibly commercialize antibody products.

While specific details relating to the deal were not released, Siegall referred to the collaboration as exciting, saying he's pleased to be working with Celera, a firm he considers an upper-echelon genomics organization.

In general terms, the companies will co-fund preclinical and clinical product development and would share any profits resulting from the collaboration. Either party may opt out of co-development of a particular product and receive royalties on net sales. Celera Genomics also will pay progress-dependent commercialization milestones to Seattle Genetics for any co-developed antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), a statement released by the firms said.

"The deal is structured in a way that both parties participate, so it is not a traditional licensing deal, it is really a collaboration where they put in their technology and we put in our technology and we'll be trying to move the assets forward jointly, drawing on resources from both companies," Kathy Ordonez, president of Rockville, Md.-based Celera Genomics, told BioWorld Today.

Products developed may include either monoclonal antibodies or antibodies linked to potent cell-killing payloads using Seattle Genetics' ADC technology.

Together, the firms will select a number of cell-surface proteins discovered and validated through Celera Genomics' proteomic platform as antigen targets. Seattle Genetics will carry out initial screening to generate and select the appropriate corresponding antibodies or ADCs, the companies said.

Seattle Genetics, which has expertise in creating, producing and testing antibodies, studies antibodies that can kill cells on their own and uses its ADC technology to empower antibodies to be more effective in killing a target, Siegall said.

Currently, Seattle Genetics has three candidates in the clinic: SGN-30 in T-cell lymphoma and Hodgkin's disease, SGN-15 in lung cancer and SGN-40 in multiple myeloma.

The deal with Seattle Genetics marks the third such arrangement Celera has signed recently.

Ordonez explained that, saying, "We've had a very large and very successful program over the last several years to identify differentially expressed surface antigens in cancer, and that program has reached a stage over the last six months or so where we've developed a number of proteins that have been validated as potential drug targets. We've developed such a sufficient volume of these targets that we can support multiple partners and we believe they have multiple uses."

In mid-July, Celera Genomics and Celera Diagnostics, its joint venture with Applied Biosystems Group, of Foster City, Calif., entered a research collaboration with General Electric Co., of Niskayuna, N.Y., for personalized and targeted medicine products.

The first project is intended to support GE's development of new imaging agents for cancer that selectively target cell-surface proteins identified by Celera Genomics to be associated with cancer. And a second bioinformatics project supports the development of new algorithms and tools to advance the partners' diagnostic and/or therapeutic programs.

Before the GE deal, Celera and Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., signed an oncology agreement whereby the parties will discover, develop and commercialize antibodies and small-molecule drugs targeted against overexpressed cell-surface proteins that have been validated at Celera. (See BioWorld Today, July 8, 2004.)

Seattle Genetics' stock (NASDAQ:SGEN) fell 50 cents Wednesday to close at $4.76, while Celera's stock (NYSE:CRA) fell 59 cents to close at $11.19.

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