By Matthew Willett

MDS Proteomics Inc. and Abgenix Inc. entered a collaboration to develop and commercialize antibodies for a broad range of disease areas.

The companies will receive reciprocal milestone and royalty payments related to commercialized products, depending on the development structure of each product, which may be developed independently or jointly. Separately, Abgenix will purchase $15 million in MDS stock.

The agreement calls for MDS, of Toronto, to use its proteomics systems to identify up to 150 targets for antibody development. Fremont, Calif.-based Abgenix uses its XenoMouse technology to generate fully human antibody products against virtually any disease target.

MDS focuses on proteomics-enabled drug discovery using its proteomics systems, supercomputing and drug design competencies to bridge the gap between gene discovery and therapeutic development. It is a subsidiary of MDS Inc., also of Toronto.

Abgenix President and Chief Operating Officer Ray Withy said the deal, the company¿s sixth this year and its sixth target-source deal, will be a win-win situation for the companies. ¿That¿s our style, and I think it¿s showing with each deal how that is coming to fruition,¿ he said.

Withy said the four-year deal for 150 targets is one of the larger deals of that category, comparable to Abgenix¿s deals with CuraGen Corp., of New Haven, Conn., and Lexicon Genetics Inc., of The Woodlands, Texas.

¿This is really in a range of disease areas,¿ Withy told BioWorld Today. ¿It¿s in a broad range of complex diseases. There are a number of disease areas where antibodies clearly have preference.¿

MDS CEO and President Frank Gleeson said the broad scope of the deal was intentional due to the broad scope of each company¿s abilities.

¿The areas, initially, of our focus will be in the oncology field and in metabolic diseases, and we¿ll undoubtedly broaden beyond that as we discover antigens that will probably move into other disease areas,¿ Gleeson said.

For MDS, he said, the deal represents the first step in a move beyond its platform technology.

¿Central to our business model is to become product focused, to generate product opportunities from our proteomics platform,¿ Gleeson told BioWorld Today. ¿We wish to transition from a platform company to a product company as rapidly as possible, and with our partnership with Abgenix we have the opportunity to develop product candidates. Through the deal we¿ve negotiated, essentially, we are to share those product opportunities equally.¿

Withy said each company will pay the other milestone and royalty payments on drugs they develop.

¿We were very impressed with their functional proteomics approach, and we thought this was a partner well suited to complex disease areas,¿ Withy said.

And beyond this collaboration, he added, Abgenix is continuing to progress in its clinical development projects.

¿In the years to come we¿ll be filing investigational new drug applications on products, and we anticipate that starting in the next year we¿ll be filing at least two INDs per year from our own efforts, and there will be more INDs from the co-development deals we have in place,¿ Withy said. The company also expects INDs to come from its standard XenoMouse partnerships.

Abgenix¿s stock (NASDAQ:ABGX) rose $2.10 cents Friday to close at $45. MDS Inc.¿s stock (NYSE:MDZ) gained 8 cents to close at $11.21.

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