London - Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc agreed to a six-month research collaboration with AstraZeneca plc, of London, to use CAT's antibody technologies in target validation.

Separately, CAT, of Royston, Cambridgeshire, released results from its Phase I/IIa trial of CAT-152, designed to prevent scarring in patients who have surgery for glaucoma, showing that post-operative intervention was required less often with CAT-152 than with placebo.

With AstraZeneca, CAT will isolate and provide antibody-based research reagents specific for cell-surface receptors and intracellular targets provided by AstraZeneca, and analyze expression of the proteins in normal and diseased human tissues using high-throughput immunocytochemistry.

In addition CAT will generate biologically active antibodies to explore the function of a number of receptors, using its ProxiMol technology.

After six months the companies will decide whether to extend the collaboration. CAT will receive research payments from AstraZeneca, and retains all rights to develop and commercialize any antibodies generated in the collaboration.

The trial of CAT-152, a fully human monoclonal antibody, was a double-blind randomized study in 24 patients undergoing trabulectomy to improve drainage of fluid in the eye. CAT-152 was safe and well-tolerated by the 16 patients who received it, and no serious adverse events were reported. The surgery lowered the intraocular pressure in all patients. Only three of 16 patients treated with CAT-152 required post-operative intervention to try to combat scarring, against four of eight on placebo.

CAT-152 is designed to neutralize the cytokine TGF-beta 2, which is believed to be the main cause of scarring in and around the eye. Scarring is the main cause of failure of surgery for glaucoma, and there are no approved treatments for its prevention. CAT estimated 250,000 patients undergo this eye operation each year.

David Glover, medical director, said, "We believe that the reduced need for post-operative clinical intervention represents our first evidence of anti-scarring activity in man." The patients will be followed for a full year, and a larger Phase II trial is now starting.