By Kim Coghill

Washington Editor

Procyon BioPharma Inc. and Biovation Ltd. said Tuesday they entered a definitive agreement for development of DeImmunized ANA therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

Antibodies developed under the agreement are part of the ANA pipeline, which Procyon has been developing with the lead therapeutic candidate designated as 2C5.

Aberdeen, Scotland-based Biovation, a member of the Merck Group, was sought for participation because of its technology, which is regarded as "very viable," according to Naveen Anand, vice president of business development and licensing for Montreal-based Procyon.

Although Anand would not disclose financial specifics of the deal, he did say terms include sponsored development, milestone payments and royalties. He said the first milestone payment will made upon approval of the investigational new drug application. Procyon expects to file for the IND sometime toward the end of 2001.

Biovation's proprietary DeImmunization technology is designed to prevent adverse immunological reactions in patients, which can limit the therapeutic potential of monoclonal antibodies and other proteins, according to a statement released by Procyon.

Procyon hopes to accelerate its timeline through the relationship with Biovation, Anand said.

The ANA antibody platform has several applications, including therapeutic, diagnostic and vaccine products and treatments likely will cover lymphoma, melanoma and colorectal cancers.

The therapeutic monoclonal antibody candidates developed as part of the two-year agreement between the companies will be tested on animal models and later in human trials.

Procyon also has two late-stage products: Fibrostat, a topical cream for the management of newly formed scars following surgery or burns, and Colopath, a rapid, non-invasive screening test for colorectal cancer.