CellPro Inc. and Corixa Corp. are collaborating to develop ex vivotherapies for oncology applications.

CellPro, of Bothell, Washington, will fund a research program toidentify and optimize methods to grow and activate tumor-antigen-specific lymphocytes and other antigen-presenting cells outside thebody.

Terms of the deal weren't revealed. But Lee Parker, CellPro'sdirector of investor relations, said it is a multi-year collaborationdriven primarily by milestones. CellPro will receive a worldwidelicense to all ex vivo cancer products arising from the research.CellPro will have all development and marketing responsibility.

"We've been in stem cells almost exclusively," Parker said. "We'vethought the next opportunity was in T cells. This is an opportunity toexpand our endeavors into T cell therapy rather dramatically."

Corixa, of Seattle, was founded in September 1994 to developvaccines based on antigens that trigger specific responses in T helpercells. The company raised $15 million in its first round of financing.(See BioWorld Today, Jan. 10, 1995, p. 2.)

Last October Corixa entered into a collaboration with SmithKlineBeecham Biologicals SA, of Rixensart, Belgium, to research vaccinesfor infectious disease applications. Neither terms nor targets weredisclosed.

CellPro's lead technology is its Ceprate SC stem cell concentrationsystem, which selects CD34 antigen-expressing cells from peripheralblood. The isolated cells are purified and transplanted back intopatients to help restore bone marrow.

The idea is similar in the collaboration with Corixa. T cells will betaken out of a patient, activated with antigens or polypeptides torecognize tumor cells, expanded and returned to the patient to targettumor cells.

"We believe Corixa's technology to be state of the art in the area ofantigen discovery and presentation to the immune system," CellPropresident and CEO Richard Murdock said in a news release. "Thecombination of CellPro's cell-separation technology and cell-cultureexpertise with Corixa's technology should lead to the discovery ofexciting new cell therapies for oncology." n

-- Jim Shrine

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.