By Randall Osborne

West Coast Editor

Medarex Inc., which uses mice to make fully human antibodies, increased its share of Paris-based Immuno-Designed Molecules S.A. (IDM) from a 6 percent nibble to a 34 percent bite, through a deal that gives the French company rights to several Medarex products.

The deal supersedes the pair's agreement in principle, disclosed earlier this year, which included rights for IDM to MDX-33, MDX-22 and certain research programs, in exchange for an even larger ownership stake for Medarex in IDM.

"It's basically the same concept, not a huge difference," said Donald Drakeman, president and CEO of Princeton, N.J.-based Medarex, which said in February that it planned to own about 43 percent of IDM.

MDX-33 is already partnered with Centeon LLC, of King of Prussia, Pa., for hematological autoimmune disorders. MDX-22 is used to purge leukemia cells from the bone marrow of acute myeloid leukemia patients undergoing a transplant of their bone marrow.

"We were going to share with IDM some of the rights [to MDX-33]," Drakeman said. "We've elected to hang onto it."

The company has about 25 partners, he said.

Under the terms of the revised agreement with IDM, the latter gets worldwide rights to MDX-210, an anti-HER2 product, as it relates to cell therapy. Earlier this year, IDM began a Phase III trial of the product for ovarian cancer with IDM's MAK cell therapy. On third-party sales of MDX-210 in Europe outside the field of cell therapy, IDM will get royalty payments in the deal.

IDM also gets certain rights in the deal to MDX-220 and MDX-447 in all areas of application. MDX-220 will likely be developed first for colon and prostate cancer, and MDX-447 for tumors that overexpress the epidermal growth factor receptor. IDM also has rights to MDX-RA, which is being developed to prevent secondary cataracts.

The deal is "really quantified only in equity terms," Drakeman said. "We think IDM has great prospects and this will be very valuable. But, in that [IDM] is private, it's hard to pick an exact number. We've been collaborating with them for years now."

Medarex's pact with IDM in cancer immunotherapy began in 1993.

IDM, focused on immunotherapy products called Cell Drugs against cancer and other life-threatening diseases, has four products in Phase II trials, along with the Phase III product for ovarian cancer. The company has devised a technology to isolate, engineer, expand and activate cells involved in therapeutic vaccination.

Medarex's stock (NASDAQ:MEDX) closed Monday at $64.812, up $7.56, or 13 percent.

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