By Randall Osborne

West Coast Editor

IDEC Pharmaceuticals Corp. broadened its deal to develop the psoriasis monoclonal antibody IDEC-114 with Mitsubishi Pharma Corp., upping the potential value of the 1993 pact to $35 million.

Under the terms of the expansion, Tokyo-based Mitsubishi Pharma Corp. (created earlier this month by the merger of Welfide Corp. and Mitsubishi-Tokyo Pharmaceuticals Inc., with which IDEC made the original deal) will help pay for clinical development of the drug and will conduct parallel clinical trials in Japan.

¿The target that the antibody is seeking out on B cells is CD80, so any products dealing with it would be covered in psoriasis,¿ said Vince Reardon, director of corporate communications for San Diego-based IDEC. ¿We¿re interested in looking at other indications, too,¿ he added, noting that the company has no partners outside of psoriasis.

The $12 million discovery arrangement as previously set up gave Mitsubishi exclusive rights in Asia to develop and commercialize the antibody products, such as IDEC-114, paying IDEC royalties on sales in Asia. Such drugs work by binding to the CD80 co-stimulatory molecule on antigen-presenting cells.

¿We got paid a good chunk of that money, $9 million, already,¿ Reardon said.

In March, at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting in Washington, IDEC offered favorable results from a multiple-dose Phase I/II trial of IDEC-114 in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis. (See BioWorld Today, March 6, 2001.)

¿We¿ve conducted a Phase I trial and a Phase I/II, and the data suggest the safety profile is good and we¿ve seen efficacy early on,¿ Reardon said.

IDEC has a history of signing with Japanese firms. It collaborated in 1996 with Eisai Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, for humanized and primatized antibodies to the gp39 antigen, targeting antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases such as lupus and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, and in 1995 with Seikagaku Corp., also of Tokyo, for an antibody against the CD23 antigen on certain white blood cells as treatment for allergic rhinitis, asthma and other allergenic conditions. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 4, 1996, and Feb. 3, 1995.)

¿Our Japanese strategy, formulated in the early 1990s, is one of the key factors in the company¿s success,¿ Reardon told BioWorld Today. The firm retained a representative in Tokyo, and ¿that individual has brought millions of dollars of business to IDEC through these partnerships,¿ he said.

A compound with Seikagaku, IDEC-152 for allergic asthma, has completed a Phase I trial, with a Phase I/II expected next year, Reardon said.

IDEC¿s $47 million overseas partnership for another drug ¿ Zevalin (ibritumomab tiuxetan), the radioimmunotherapy for non-Hodgkin¿s lymphoma ¿ is with Schering AG, of Berlin. IDEC retains all Zevalin rights in the U.S., and won an FDA panel¿s nod for recommendation last month. (See BioWorld Today, May, 11, 2001, and Sept. 13, 2001.)

¿We¿re working on finalizing approval, discussing things like the package insert,¿ Reardon said, adding that the FDA is required to respond by Jan. 8. ¿We hope we hear from them before then, but the ball is in their court,¿ he said.

Meanwhile, ¿we¿ve got three drugs in Phase II, and we¿ll be getting data pretty much in all three around mid-next year,¿ Reardon said. ¿We¿ll be making decisions depending on the persuasiveness of the data on which one or two of those drugs we¿ll push into Phase III.¿

Other than IDEC-114, the drugs are IDEC-131 for ITP and psoriasis (with Eisai), and IDEC-151 for rheumatoid arthritis, which is unpartnered.

IDEC¿s stock (NASDAQ:IDPH) closed Friday at $55, up $1.61.