By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

Genzyme Molecular Oncology (GZMO) and Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd. entered what was described as a broad-based, multimillion-dollar collaboration to develop and commercialize fully human monoclonal antibodies as therapies in anti-angiogenesis and vascular targeted cancer drug delivery.

GZMO¿s tumor endothelial markers (TEMS) will serve as targets for product candidates, according to Framingham, Mass.-based GZMO, a subsidiary of Genzyme Corp., of Cambridge, Mass.

¿We¿re delighted to have Kirin as a collaborator,¿ Gail Maderis, GZMO¿s president, told BioWorld Today. ¿We have a very strong intellectual property portfolio around these novel markets for anti-angiogenesis, and we felt that antibodies were one of the first areas that we wanted to move forward on around TEMS.¿

Kirin Brewery, of Tokyo, brings strong capabilities to the collaboration, Maderis said. ¿They have the KM Mouse, and on top of being a world leader in anti-angiogenesis generations, they have a strong cancer program,¿ she said.

Using the crossbred mouse developed by Kirin and Princeton, N.J.-based Medarex Inc., the deal calls for Kirin to generate the antibodies to the validated markers. Genzyme will validate a select group of eight to 10 TEMS.

These TEMS were among the group of 46 genes identified more than a year ago by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, using GZMO¿s SAGE technology. (See BioWorld Today, Aug. 18, 2000.)

Financial terms include a $2 million up-front fee for Genzyme plus two years of full research funding. Genzyme also will receive milestone payments.

¿This relationship will extend through commercialization,¿ Maderis said. ¿The first part of that is a minimum of two years of research to basically validate the targets, prioritize them, generate antibodies and select clinical candidates. From there ¿ once these are designated as clinical candidates for co-development ¿ we will share the funding.¿

On top of that, Maderis said, ¿We are able to leverage each company¿s strength in sales and marketing, so while we are in a 50-50 worldwide profit-share arrangement, the marketing arrangement will take advantage of their strength in Asia and ours in the U.S. and Europe.¿

She added that Kirin has a ¿terrific reputation as a biotech partner,¿ having the rights to market the erythropoietin product Epogen, as well as Neupogen in Asia for Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Amgen Inc.

Kirin earlier this year signed a collaboration agreement with Cerus Corp., of Concord, Calif., to develop stem cell transplantation products directed toward hematologic malignancies based on Cerus¿ Helinx technology. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 25, 2001.)

Genzyme Molecular Oncology¿s stock (NASDAQ: GZMO) closed Monday at $8.89, down 16 cents.