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Building on nearly eight years of work, IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corp. and Seikagaku Corp. extended their collaboration on IDEC-152 to include full clinical development, thereby more than doubling the worth of the deal.

Signed in December 1994, the agreement on the “primatized” monoclonal antibody originally was valued at $26 million to IDEC in funding and a milestone payment.

“Those monies were research costs and a milestone payment for 152,” said Vince Reardon, director, corporate communications at IDEC. “Over the last eight years, we’ve been paid about $19.5 million from that deal, and that was for research costs the milestone we have not reached yet. The extension of this deal the $34 million is to fund solely clinical development costs.”

The antibody binds to the CD23 receptor and therefore may favorably influence asthma through its selective regulation of IgE production and its inhibition of other inflammatory pathways, Reardon said.

Primatized antibodies are part-human, part-Macaque monkey. They are produced by immunizing Macaques with the antigen CD23 and isolating the B cells that produce the anti-CD23 antibody.

Seikagaku, of Tokyo, has rights to the product in allergic asthma and other allergic diseases worldwide, except for North America, South America and Central America, which IDEC retains. Seikagaku would pay IDEC royalties on sales of anti-CD23 antibody products in Seikagaku’s territories.

“There is no change in the marketing agreement,” Reardon told BioWorld Today. “It’s a co-development agreement and [Seikagaku] is intimately involved in the results of the Phase I/II trial that is under way now.”

The Phase I/II trial in allergic asthma was launched in the first quarter. IDEC is free to develop the product in other areas and Reardon said the company “hopes to launch a Phase I/II trial in chronic lymphocytic leukemia later this year.”

Last week, IDEC raised $675 million through the sale of 30-year, zero-coupon senior notes. While the funds will be used for a variety of things, Reardon said a large part will be spent on the physical expansion of the company. (See BioWorld Today, April 25, 2002.)

In May, IDEC plans to break ground on a new manufacturing facility in Oceanside, Calif., about 30 minutes away from the company’s headquarters in San Diego. The building nicknamed NIMO, for New IDEC Manufacturing Operations will be used to manufacture approved products. Across the street from that, the company is refurbishing a 42,000-square-foot space nicknamed NICO, for New IDEC Clinical Operations that will be used to manufacture product for clinical trials. Zevalin, IDEC’s approved product for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is being manufactured in a 13,000-square-foot facility in San Diego.

Rituxan, IDEC’s product developed by IDEC and Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, and manufactured by Genentech, brought in $235 million in 2002’s first quarter.

Reardon said IDEC hired 66 new employees last quarter, bringing the company’s total to 750. Although the new employees are spread across several areas at IDEC, manufacturing was the “hiring focus,” Reardon said. Three years ago, IDEC stood at about 350 people.

“That’s what a billion-dollar drug will do for you,” Reardon said.

IDEC’s stock (NASDAQ:IDPH) fell $2.08 Friday to close at $54.65 on a day the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell 3.4 percent.

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