By Brady Huggett
Chiron Corp., drawing finances from its intellectual property, licensed out its recombinant human macrophage-colony stimulating factor to Zarix Inc. and its hepatitis C and HIV patent rights to AcroMetrix Inc. for use in nucleic acid diagnostics.
Zarix, of Berwyn, Pa., gets exclusive worldwide rights to recombinant human macrophage-colony stimulating factor (rM-CSF) for the treatment of cancer and infectious disease with the right to make, develop and commercialize rM-CSF while shouldering development costs. Chiron will receive up-front license fees, milestone payments and royalties on product sales.
AcroMetrix, of Berkeley, Calif., receives a worldwide, semi-exclusive license, including blood screening, allowing it to research, develop, manufacture and sell HCV and HIV nucleic acid probe quality controls, standards and quantification panels for in vivo diagnostics. Chiron will receive an up-front license fee, milestone payments and royalties on sales here as well.
"Our intellectual property estate is a strong revenue driver," said Shelley Schneiderman, associate manager of corporate communications and investor relations at Chiron. "We derive a significant amount of revenue from our out-licensing and that is something we pride ourselves on."
For Zarix, a company founded in 1998 whose business strategy is seeking in-licensing opportunities, rM-CSF is the second product it has brought on board. It acquired worldwide rights to develop the thymidylate-synthase inhibitor, Thymitaq, from Agouron Pharmaceuticals Inc., of La Jolla, Calif. Thymitaq has been studied in over 600 patients to date in 22 clinical trials and is ready for Phase III. To fund Thymitaq trials, Zarix raised $23.5 million in a Series C financing in the fall. Company officials could not be reached for comment on the rM-CSF in-licensing deal. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 5, 2000.)
Schneiderman said rM-CSF, although being in late-stage development, was something Chiron felt comfortable letting outside the house.
"The product had not been in active development at Chiron for some years," she told BioWorld Today. "We made a decision that we would not bring it into the next set of trials, but instead would look for a partner for it."
On the diagnostic side, privately held AcroMetrix provides products and services to clinical testing labs, blood banks and test manufacturers to demonstrate operator proficiency, train and certify new users, and/or compare different test methods. The patent rights it acquired from Chiron will allow it to research, develop, manufacture and sell HCV and HIV nucleic acid probe quality controls, standards and quantification panels for in vitro diagnostics.
Chiron's stock (NASDAQ:CHIR) moved up 75 cents Thursday to close at $42.687.