U.K. companies ObeSys Ltd. and Cambridge AntibodyTechnology Ltd. (CAT) entered into an alliance toidentify and develop human antibodies that targetadipocytes, or fat cells.

The intent is to create "biological liposuction" usinginjectable human antibodies to selectively target andeliminate fat cells in certain locations of the body. CAT,of Melbourn, England, will share Phase I developmentcosts and be entitled to royalties on sales.

CAT's screening technology will be used to isolate thespecific antibody. ObeSys, of London, licensedtechnology related to the use of antibodies that reduceadipose tissue in humans and pets.

ObeSys was founded about a year ago by two members ofThe Ulysses Group, of New York, and two scientists atthe Medical Research Council in London. The technologywas developed by David Flint of the Hannah ResearchInstitute in Ayr, Scotland.

Jerry Balter, a managing partner at Ulysses and CEO ofLondon-based ObeSys, said removal of fat cells "is arelatively straightforward process. We have a great dealof data on various farm animals."

The original intent was to create low-fat pigs and sheep,he said, adding that became impractical because ofpassive immunity, which led to the need for continualinjections. The need for repeat treatments wouldn'tpresent such a hurdle in humans, Balter said.

Balter said the deal with CAT is like a $3 million to $4million financing, since the antibody process normallywould cost nearly $2 million and half the Phase I testingwill cost more than $1 million. An equity investment byCAT is being discussed, Balter said, and a marketingpartner will be found along the way.

"Our expectation is that we will have our lead compoundfully characterized and in preclinical testing in the firstquarter of 1997 with the hope of filing an NDA [newdrug application] by the end of 1997," Balter said.

ObeSys President Davis Farmer said the intent is to targetadipocyte cells in a controlled and specific fashion.

"More precisely," Farmer said, "we intend to eliminateonly the fat cells in a certain location, or a certainpercentage of the fat cells, of a given patient.Consequently, the ability to target these cells veryprecisely is crucial for the safety of future patients and theefficacy of our planned products.

"CAT gives us this precision and accelerates thediscovery process significantly," Farmer said. "Ratherthan working for several years to find candidatecompounds we expect to isolate a lead candidate within ayear." n

-- Jim Shrine

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