BioWorld International Correspondent

Danish therapeutic antibody development firm Genmab A/S is halfway toward meeting its partnering target for the year.

The Copenhagen-based company unveiled its second agreement of 2002 last week, an angiogenesis collaboration, with Australian genomics firm Bionomics Ltd., of Adelaide.

This follows a three-way agreement announced in January to develop breast cancer therapies. That deal involves Oxford GlycoSciences plc, of Oxford, UK, and Genmab’s co-founder Medarex, of Princeton, N.J. Genmab’s vice president of investor relations and public relations, Rachel Gravesen, said Genmab planned to enter four antibody development deals this year, following the six it signed last year.

Genmab and Bionomics will jointly develop human antibodies to targets identified by Bionomics. The companies will share research and development costs, commercialization rights, and returns from eventual product sales.

“It is a broad agreement that covers up to four targets,” Gravesen said. The partners initially will focus on two targets; however, neither has been disclosed.

Angiogenesis is associated with cancer; however, it also is linked to the development of certain chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and serious eye diseases. These two broad areas form the core of Genmab’s therapeutic focus, although the Bionomics program is primarily targeted at the cancer field.

“If we discovered we could use something more broadly, then we would have a look at that more closely,” Gravesen said.

Meanwhile, the company’s existing preclinical programs are moving forward. “What we’re expecting is to file three INDs this year,” Gravesen said. She identified one of these HuMax-EGFr, a human monoclonal antibody targeting the Epidermal Growth Factor receptor (EGFr) which has exhibited antitumor effects in in vivo mouse studies.