By Matthew Willett

MorphoSys AG and Centocor Inc. joined in a technology license agreement that grants Centocor access to MorphoSys' HuCAL technology for antibody generation.

The agreement is the second collaboration in as many days centered on MorphoSys' antibody-generating HuCAL, or Human Combinatorial Antibody Library, technology. The first was with Biogen Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.

Financial details of the BioGen deal were undisclosed.

The Centocor deal is worth EUR22 million (US$20.71 million), and calls for EUR19 million in technology license fees and a EUR3 million up-front payment to MorphoSys, of Martinsried, Germany, which also will receive royalty payments on any commercialized drugs the collaboration produces.

Centocor, of Malvern, Pa., is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, N.J.

The Biogen deal will apply MorphoSys' HuCAL technology to validate an unspecified number of targets from Biogen's genomics platforms. Biogen took a license in that deal to develop resultant antibodies, and will pay MorphoSys research costs, an undisclosed up-front technology access fee and milestone and royalty payments on resultant antibody-based therapeutics.

MorphoSys' head of public relations, Lisa Richert, said the deals for the HuCAL technology are similar in their downstream potential but different in their structure.

"We do have other collaborations on therapeutic antibodies - Millennium [Pharmaceuticals Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.]; Procyon [BioPharma Inc., of Montreal]; Bayer [AG, of Leverkusen, Germany]; and Hoffmann-La Roche [Inc., of Nutley, N.J.], for example - and we do have such collaborations to generate new medications," Richert told BioWorld Today. "What's important or significant to us is that the Centocor deal is the biggest we've got as far as potential. With an option to 30 targets they'll provide that we'll work on, this has a really huge potential."

The HuCAL technology is unique in its ability to create synthetic antibodies using non-animal production, Richert said.

"For the Biogen deal, it's similar to the Centocor deal in that there's a huge potential for the future," she said. "It's more or less comparable to a bigger license agreement in that the future potential is huge. Looking at the targets, we'll hopefully get a number of valuable targets, then generate antibodies against the targets, and we're hoping to move on in the future in this collaboration perhaps to develop antibodies into drugs."

MorphoSys' stock (Neuer Markt:MOR) rose 24 percent on the news Wednesday.