By Debbie Strickland
With the $65 million acquisition of GenPharm International Inc. completed, Medarex Inc. says it is now ready to create and develop human antibodies for itself and others.
"We're really excited about the synergies," said Lisa Drakemen, vice president of Medarex. "They had discovery capabilities, and we had development capabilities."
The post-merger company, she said, can generate and move prospective drugs all the way through the pipeline.
The synergies extend to the science, Drakeman added. GenPharm's HuMab-Mouse strain, which produces high-affinity, fully human antibodies to a target antigen in about three to six months, complements Medarex's bispecific antibody technology.
GenPharm's HuMab-Mouse generates human monoclonal antibodies with strong binding abilities to a wide variety of disease targets. Medarex plans to develop fully human targeting antibodies that can be linked to its patented bispecific/trigger technology.
Bispecific antibodies are designed to attach to both disease targets and immune system killer cells simultaneously. This dual binding ability essentially a target-trigger combination, in which one portion of the bispecific binds to a trigger molecule on killer cells and the other targets and binds to the tumor cell or infectious agent to be eliminated. After joining the killer cell and the tumor cell or pathogen, the bispecific triggers the killer cell's destruction of the target.
To pay for the acquisition, Medarex will issue approximately 3.5 million shares of common stock to GenPharm's shareholders this year. Additional shares will be issued by the end of 1998 for the balance of the purchase price, but only to the extent that GenPharm has received certain patent license fees and related payments from third parties.
Medarex will receive $33 million in cash by the end of 1998 through a combination of GenPharm's cash, and the patent license fees and related payments mentioned above.
Along with GenPharm come three collaborative partnerships: with Eisai Co. Ltd., of Tokyo, Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa., and LeukoSite Inc., of Cambridge, Mass.
Medarex has three collaborative partnerships in cancer predating the acquisition: with Novartis A.G., of Basel Switzerland, Merck KGaA, of Darmstadt, Germany, and Centeon, L.L.C., of King of Prussia, Pa. Each of these collaborations has at least one product in clinical trials.
The company is offering prospective partners a variety of collaboration options, including use of one or both core technologies, and creation and/or production of antibodies.
Medarex's shares (NASDAQ:MEDX) closed Monday at $5.875, down $0.563. *