By Nuala Moran

BioWorld International Correspondent

LONDON - Shares in Oxford GlycoSciences (OGS) plc rose by 89 pence to #22.54 when it announced the discovery of a novel heparanase gene and its protein, Hpa2, a key target for cancer therapies. Heparanase is implicated in angiogenesis and metastasis, destroying the normal tissue around tumors, and giving tumors and their blood vessels room to grow.

The proteomics company also said it has made progress in the discovery of a novel series of small-molecule inhibitors of heparanase, and revealed an extension to its partnership with Medarex Inc., in which the two will develop fully human monoclonal antibodies against heparanase.

OGS will commercialize the heparanase antibodies through a licensing agreement with Medarex, retaining worldwide commercial rights. Medarex, of Princeton, N.J., said its T-12 antibody development system has the capability to move from target identification to trials in 12 months. This deal is in addition to the multitarget collaboration between the partners, announced in September, under which Medarex made a $5 million equity investment in OGS.

Raj Parekh, chief scientific officer at OGS, said, "Targeting heparanase represents a new concept in anticancer research. We are attacking this on two fronts, with potent and selective small-molecule inhibitors emerging from our medicinal chemistry program, and with antibodies."

The company, based in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, has filed patent applications for genes, proteins, antibodies and small-molecule inhibitors of heparanase.

"We have been able to move quickly in this area. This is an example of a growing number of programs at OGS that have integrated genomics, proteomics, biology, chemistry and antibody technology, to minimize the time from target discovery and selection to product development," Parekh said.