LONDON ¿ Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc made two moves to expand its drug pipeline, signing an agreement, including product development rights, with Incyte Genomics Inc. to access the Incyte LifeSeq database, and forming an alliance with Amrad Corp. Ltd. for the joint development and discovery of therapeutics to treat inflammatory diseases.

The deal with Incyte gives CAT the right to take exclusive licenses under Incyte antibody patent rights to discover, develop and commercialize therapeutic antibodies with specificity for target proteins in the LifeSeq database. CAT will pay a license fee, plus milestones and royalties on any products it develops.

CEO David Chiswell said the deal gives CAT a further opportunity to develop antibody-based drugs to fit genomics targets. ¿We have already demonstrated the power of combining antibody phage display and genomics-based target discovery, and this agreement adds a significant new source of genomics-derived targets to fuel CAT¿s drug development pipeline.¿

The deal with Amrad, of Melbourne, Australia, will focus on the discovery and development of antibodies that neutralize the receptor for granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor. The companies will jointly fund development to completion of Phase II, and CAT, based in Melbourn, UK, will then have primary responsibility for further development and commercialization.

Amrad will contribute its patents and expertise about the target to the program. Recent studies indicate that GM-CSF plays a central role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, inducing the pro-inflammatory cascade underlying this disease when it binds to its receptor. Amrad has patents on the GSM-CSF receptor target in the U.S. and Europe.

Chiswell said CAT and Amrad are committed to a close collaboration. ¿This underscores CAT¿s commitment both to share in the risks and rewards of antibody product development and to build a drug pipeline serving areas of significant medical need.¿

After Phase II Amrad has the option to receive milestone and royalty payments from CAT, or to participate in further development and commercialization. n