BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON Paradigm Therapeutics Ltd. signed a collaboration with Genmab A/S to jointly discover and develop therapeutic antibodies to targets generated by Paradigm’s functional genomics technology. The two will share development costs and any subsequent revenues.

Richard Goodfellow, Paradigm’s commercial director, told BioWorld International, “This will allow us to move from being a functional genomics company to being a drug discovery and development company. The genomics world has moved on from structure based to function based. But it is not enough just to have function; the interest now is in products.”

Therapeutic antibodies represent the quickest and easiest route to get from targets to products, Goodfellow said. “It is a great advantage to be working with a company like Genmab, with a well-established process, that works on a large scale, very quickly. They are able to optimize antibodies within 12 months and be in the clinic within two years,” he said. “It would be very nice for a company at Paradigm’s stage of development to be able to say in two years’ time, we have a drug in development.”

A further attraction in partnering with Genmab, of Copenhagen, Denmark, is the company’s commitment to have its own manufacturing facility, and its resource in clinical development, he said.

For Genmab, this is one of a string of deals with companies, including Roche, Immunex Corp., DeCode Genetics Inc., Sequenom Inc., Oxford GlycoSciences plc, Scancell Ltd. and Glaucus Proteomics BV, to develop antibodies to a partner’s targets.

Privately held Paradigm’s bioinformatics platform mines the human genome to discover genes with structural similarity to proteins that previously have proved to be good targets, such as G protein-coupled receptors, ion channels and enzymes. Once novel gene candidates are identified, they are verified and patented. Concurrently, the mammalian function of the genes is determined in vivo by mutating the gene in mice.

The company said its approach of discovering and validating only genes encoding drug targets allows it to generate targets that are ready to enter a partner’s established drug development pipeline. It said it has identified over 300 potential human drugable targets. Goodfellow said some of them already have sufficient associated data to be of interest to Genmab, and are ready for Genmab to start work on them straightaway.

Paradigm was spun out of Cambridge University in 1999 and raised £1 million from Avlar Bioventures in its first-round funding in December 2000. The company is in the process of raising a second round of £10 million to £15 million, and Goodfellow said that is going well. The money would last two to three years.

Although Paradigm has chosen antibodies as the fastest way to generate products, it also is interested in developing small molecules and will begin to build an in-house capability, as well as look for further partnerships.

“We are a target factory; we are always going to generate more targets than we can deal with ourselves,” Goodfellow said.