BORNHEIM, Germany ¿ Micromet AG and Curis Inc. signed an agreement covering research, product development and technology exchange that includes a $14 million up-front payment to Curis.

Curis will participate in an equity offering by Micromet. There will be royalties and profit-sharing payments to both Curis and Micromet from the development of therapeutic products, the companies said.

The deal aims at unlocking synergies related to single-chain antibody technology, target mining in stem cells and drug discovery, Christian Itin, Micromet vice president for corporate development, told BioWorld International.

Curis, of Cambridge, Mass., agreed to transfer its intellectual property portfolio and licenses related to single-chain antibody technology to Micromet, of Martinsried, Germany.

One of Micromet¿s drug development platforms is based on single-chain antibodies, called BiTE (bispecific T-cell engagers), designed to recruit T cells to eliminate disease-causing cells in cancer, inflammation and autoimmune conditions. The first BiTE is expected to enter into clinical trails this year and two others are expected to follow in the next two years.

¿Curis was one of two companies worldwide owning the key single-chain antibody patents,¿ Itin said. ¿Our purchase of the Curis patent estate consolidates this intellectual property portfolio with our single-chain antibody product platform.¿

Furthermore, the companies agreed to collaborate in stem cell genomics. ¿Curis receives exclusive access to Micromet¿s single-cell genomics technology for the field of stem cell research and to build a commercial stem cell database,¿ Itin said.

The companies plan to mine the database for drug targets. Antibody targets will be co-developed by both parties, with Micromet leading the development effort, Itin said. In addition, Curis plans to search for small molecules suitable to the targets.

¿This extensive strategic alliance captures the synergies generated by Micromet¿s expertise in discovering and developing innovative antibody therapeutics as drug candidates with Curis¿ strength in mining the genome to generate validated targets,¿ Curis President and CEO Doros Platika said in a prepared statement.

The equity participation by Curis will be at an amount too low to gain any influence over Micromet¿s operations and strategy, Itin said.

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