LONDON - Cambridge Antibody Technology plc (CAT) has agreed to a deal with the U.S. genomics company Human Genome Sciences Inc. (HGS) to develop human monoclonal antibodies against genomics targets identified by HGS.

CAT, based in Royston, will use its antibody isolation technologies to generate high-affinity, fully human antibodies specific for three human targets identified by and proprietary to HGS. No financial details were given, but HGS will pay for the research and CAT will receive milestones and royalties on any subsequent products. There was no indication what diseases will be pursued.

Diane Mellett, vice president of legal affairs at CAT, told BioWorld International, "There is a fixed initial research term during which we will identify antibodies to the targets, but then the collaboration could extend into long-term development." She said preclinical work on the targets could be shared depending on which company had the appropriate expertise. CAT already has taken several antibodies through to the clinic, on its own and in other collaborations.

"This will be a very mutual project, with lots of collaboration, and we anticipate working closely together to decide how to take the work forward," she said.

Mellett noted the deal fits in with CAT's strategy of broadening its pipeline. "This widens our net with a very credible partner. One of the problems at the moment is that there are a lot of targets out there - you really need to know that a partner is committed to a particular target."

The initial focus of the collaboration will be a proprietary antigen that is on HGS's fast track.

William Haseltine, CEO of HGS, said, "We are experts in the identification of hundreds of novel human proteins that are found on the surface of cells, tissues and organs; they are experts in identifying large numbers of human antibodies that recognize such proteins, that may be useful as drugs and other pharmaceutical products."