By Matthew Willett

Lexicon Genetics Inc. and Abgenix Inc. entered a multiyear agreement under which Lexicon will validate monoclonal antibody targets for Abgenix.

The deal is the second between antibody developer Abgenix, of Fremont, Calif., and functional genomics and informatics producer Lexicon, of The Woodlands, Texas. The first was a drug discovery alliance entered in July.

Julia Gregory, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Lexicon, said the deal has both near- and long-term benefits for her company.

"Clearly, there's a financial implication on the short term with the ability to have a very long-term kicker in the form of milestones and royalties for the right drugs," Gregory told BioWorld Today. "That's what we're all looking for: the right drugs. Our business is looking in the short term, the near term and the long term, and we have a strong foundation today."

Lexicon will use its mammalian assays to determine a gene sequence's function in a mammalian system.

"We'll actually help them to determine what to make their antibodies to by showing how a gene sequence would work in a mammalian system, pinpointing whether it's a good target or not. They then can determine whether they should make an antibody to that antigen after they've seen the effect in a mammalian system," Gregory said.

Specific financial terms of the deal were undisclosed, but Gregory said her company is confident in the revenue-producing capacity of a deal with an industry leader.

"We think we have some very novel genes in our OmniBank, and if together we exploit those genes from this agreement we think we'll have some significant milestones or royalties going forward," Gregory said. "There are a lot of major discoveries to be made out there, and we don't believe any one company can make all those, so we want to partner with people of the quality of Abgenix so we can move discoveries up to the front and quickly find those discoveries in this post-genomics area."

The OmniBank is a library containing more than 100,000 knockout mouse clones.

Lexicon's stock (NASDAQ:LEXG) gained 87.5 cents Wednesday to close at $14.875. Abgenix's stock (NASDAQ:ABGX) fell $2.06 to close at $50.25.