Maxygen Inc. entered an agreement with Celltech Group plc to apply its Molecular Breeding directed evolution technology to four Celltech monoclonal antibody programs.

Maxygen, of Redwood City, Calif., may receive license and option fees, full research and development funding, milestone payments and royalties on product sales. Slough, UK-based Celltech retains exclusive worldwide rights to commercialize antibody therapeutics developed during the collaboration.

Maxygen officials could be reached for comment.

Simba Gill, president of Maxygen, said in a prepared statement, “Our collaboration with Celltech is the fourth therapeutics corporate partnership we established in 2001. Maxygen’s previous collaborations focus on using our proprietary technologies to improve cytokines, immunostimulatory factors and vaccines. By applying our capabilities to the field of antibodies, we are significantly expanding the therapeutic markets that Maxygen addresses with Molecular Breeding directed evolution technologies.”

In November, Maxygen entered an agreement with Lyon, France-based Aventis Pasteur worth up to $60 million for developing what Maxygen described as improved vaccines for a specific, undisclosed target. (See BioWorld Today, Nov. 6, 2001.)

InterMune Inc., of Brisbane, Calif., entered a collaboration in September worth up to $60 million for Maxygen, which will help develop the next generation of the former’s lead product, Actimmune (interferon gamma-1b). (See BioWorld Today, Sept. 6, 2001.)

In February, Maxygen entered an $80 million three-year research and development deal with Dutch company ALK-Abello A/S for recombinant therapeutics for allergy treatment. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 9, 2001.)