West Coast Editor

Biosite Inc.’s teamwork with Medarex Inc. in phage display has netted it another deal, this one with Amgen Inc., which will provide “dozens of targets” and pay development and maintenance fees for antibodies to them, said Chris Twomey, vice president of finance and chief financial officer of Biosite.

The Trans-Phage Technology at the center of the up-to-three-year deal combines San Diego-based Biosite’s Omniclonal phage display method with the HuMAb Mouse developed by Medarex Inc., of Princeton, N.J.

If products result, Biosite will get milestone fees and royalties, retaining certain diagnostic rights to targets. Biosite’s focus in diagnostics has yielded the Triage brand rapid diagnostic tests, used in half of the hospitals in the U.S. and in 40 international markets.

No further details were disclosed.

Medarex and Biosite paired their technologies two years ago in a $24 million deal, and have partnered the combination with Eli Lilly and Co., of Indianapolis, and Eos Biotechnology Inc., of South San Francisco. In both deals, the partnering firms are providing Biosite with targets in return for development fees, milestone fees, potential royalties and annual target maintenance fees and Biosite gets rights to diagnostic applications. (See BioWorld Today, June 2, 2000; Jan. 5, 2001; and Feb. 27, 2001.)

“Usually, the large pharma companies aren’t that interested in diagnostic applications,” Twomey said. His firm has exploited such uses, however, and not always necessarily for the indication at which the pharmaceutical company has aimed its drug.

Biosite, for example, has diagnostic rights to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Scios Inc.’s congestive heart failure drug Natrecor (nesiritide, a b-type natriuretic peptide), as part of a 1997 semi-exclusive licensing agreement.

“We used it to diagnose CHF, but we can use it in areas outside that acute coronary syndrome and possibly even stroke,” Twomey said.

“We’ve done deals with probably half a dozen companies,” he added, including one with Medarex itself, not using the combined technologies or the Medarex mice. “They bring us targets of their own,” and pay $750,000 to Biosite every three months for the work, Twomey said.

“Most people are excited about the validation of our position with Xoma [Ltd., of Berkeley, Calif.],” he added. Xoma and Biosite are entangled in a legal dispute over licenses related to the bacterial expression of antibodies. Amgen “evaluated our position and chose to go ahead with this [deal].”

Biosite’s stock (NASDAQ:BSTE) closed Monday at $24.83, up $1.43. Amgen’s shares (NASDAQ:AMGN) fell 32 cents to close at $59.40.