By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

MedImmune Inc. and Targesome Inc. entered an agreement under which the companies will study the potential of combining MedImmune's anti-angiogenesis product, Vitaxin, with Targesome's proprietary nanoparticle technology.

Through the agreement with Targesome, of Palo Alto, Calif., Vitaxin will be attached to the nanoparticles along with cytotoxic or radioactive agents that can be targeted to the vascular receptor, alpha-v beta-3 integrin.

Karen Brunke, vice president of business development for Targesome, said Phase I trials likely will begin later this year or early next year.

Upon the conclusion of Phase I, MedImmune will assume responsibility for the Phase II trials, as well subsequent clinical development, manufacturing and marketing.

The combination of Targesome's technology and Vitaxin could generate a targeted nanoparticle capable of delivering a payload of a therapeutic or imaging agent for the treatment or diagnosis of cancer.

"Targesome's technology looks interesting and we are excited about the agreement," said Lori Weiman, director of investor and media relations for MedImmune.

MedImmune made a $1.5 million equity investment in Targesome and has agreed to make milestone payments and pay future royalties on therapeutic products in cancer and other disease areas resulting from the relationship.

Targesome, a two-year-old private company, is responsible for all activities related to using the combined technology to develop cancer-focused imaging agents, from which MedImmune would receive milestone payments and potential future royalties.

Brunke also said Targesome has an option to license Vitaxin for use in imaging agents, and as part of the agreement, MedImmune has an option to license the Targesome technology for the development of multiple therapeutic products with Vitaxin.

And Targesome's technology is not limited to use with Vitaxin. "We can take several types of drugs [antibodies, peptides and small molecules] and put the drug on the particle and target the receptor of interest," Brunke said.

The agreement with MedImmune is the first of its kind for Targesome, said Brunke, "but we are looking for others."

Targesome develops receptor-targeted nanoparticles to diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases. The company's particles enable detection of such diseases at the microscopic stage through molecular imaging technology and provide vehicles for delivery of therapeutic agents.

MedImmune, of Gaithersburg, Md., has several products on the market, including Synagis, CytoGam and Ethyol, while Vitaxin, a humanized antibody, remains in Phase I clinical studies for the prevention of angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels.

Aside from its three major products on the market, MedImmune also owns two other, smaller products: RespiGam, a respiratory syncytial virus immune globulin intravenous, and NeuTrexin, a trimetrexate glucuronate for injection. The company also has eight other products in various stages of development, Weiman said.

MedImmune's stock (NASDAQ:MEDI) closed Friday at $43.875, up $2.812. n