With the goal of developing effective cancer therapeutics, Chiron Corp. and XOMA Ltd. are joining forces to share their antibody technologies.

The companies entered a worldwide exclusive agreement to focus on multiple products and plan to file an investigational new drug application before too long.

"We have been looking for some time to develop our monoclonal antibody platform," said John Gallagher, manager of media relations at Emeryville, Calif.-based Chiron. "This collaboration with XOMA allows us to do so, so it is a milestone in the development of our oncology franchise."

Chiron will bring to the collaboration its large-scale genomics platform focused on generating functionally validated targets to develop small-molecule drugs, therapeutic antibodies and vaccines. The company's research engine has identified a number of potential targets.

XOMA will bring its experience and capabilities to help Chiron generate antibodies against the targets and accelerate them through development.

"It's significant to us because obviously it represents a significant growth in our product pipeline," said Laura Zobkiw, manager of corporate communications and investor relations at Berkeley, Calif.-based XOMA. "It's a real testimony to what XOMA can bring to the development table."

Zobkiw also said that the collaboration gives recognition to XOMA's technologies, including its multiple phage display libraries and human engineering technologies, as well as its process development and manufacturing scale-up capabilities. The company has been working in the monoclonal antibody field for more than 20 years.

"It's nice to finally get some recognition in that area," Zobkiw told BioWorld Today.

As part of the agreement, the companies will split 70-30 development and commercialization expenses, including preclinical and clinical development, manufacturing and worldwide marketing costs. They will share revenues on the same basis, with Chiron receiving 70 percent of all revenues and XOMA receiving 30 percent. XOMA also will receive an initial payment of $10 million and a loan facility of up to $50 million to fund its share of development expenses.

The collaboration will initially focus on preclinical, process development and scale-up work, but the companies might try to move their first product into the clinic soon.

"We expect an IND to be filed early in the collaboration, but we're looking at early stage compounds," Gallagher said.

The companies did not disclose timelines for the collaboration or any further financial details.

Chiron's platform has been used to study thousands of human tissue samples from patients with cancer in order to find the most important genes responsible for the disease. Chiron has filed patents on about 25,000 gene sequences. CHIR258, its first small-molecule oncology compound, entered a Phase I trial in January.

Chiron's stock (NASDAQ:CHIR) rose 20 cents on Monday to close at $49.11, while XOMA's stock (NASDAQ:XOMA) rose 28 cents to close at $6.28.