BioWorld International Correspondent

MUNICH, Germany Micromet AG and Enzon Inc. entered a collaboration to identify and develop treatments based on antibody fragments. The companies will combine their patent estates, cooperate on single-chain antibody (SCA) technology and establish a new R&D unit located at Micromet’s research facility in Munich.

The R&D unit initially will employ 25 scientists, and the companies expect it to be fully operational by the end of 2002. The agreement covers the first phase of the collaboration, which will run 30 months beginning in the third quarter of 2002, and calls for the unit to generate at least two clinical product candidates. Enzon also is making a US$8 million investment in Micromet.

The companies expect that Enzon’s intellectual property in SCAs, combined with Micromet’s patents in SCA linkers and fusion protein technology, will give them advantages in SCA product development. The firms have renewed a cross-license agreement on SCA intellectual property and will jointly market their combined SCA intellectual property to third parties. Micromet will be the exclusive marketing partner and will institute a comprehensive licensing program on behalf of the partnership, for which both businesses will share equally in the costs and revenues.

“Our collaboration with Micromet underscores Enzon’s commitment to leverage our leadership position in SCA technology and to expand our pipeline with innovative new products,” Arthur Higgins, Enzon’s chairman and CEO, said in a press release.

Munich-based Micromet is privately held and specializes in designing and developing antibody-based drugs for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Enzon, of Piscataway, N.J., develops and commercializes enhanced therapeutics for life-threatening diseases. It currently markets treatments for hepatitis C and acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and is in Phase III clinical trials of a treatment for malignant melanoma.