Chiron Corp. and CytoMed Inc. announced Thursday they willcollaborate on the research and development of complement inhibitorswith therapeutic and diagnostic applications.The collaboration between Chiron (NASDAQ:CHIR), of Emeryville,Calif., and privately held CytoMed, of Cambridge, Mass., should resultin the development of complement inhibitors such as those of the C3and C5 convertases, including Membrane Cofactor Protein, forpotential use in trauma and serious infection.Chiron receives an exclusive license to the C3 and C5 convertaseinhibitor technology and an exclusive sublicense under a WashingtonUniversity, St. Louis, license owned by CytoMed.Tom Beck, chairman and CEO of CytoMed, told BioWorld thearrangement includes a "series of payments that include up-front andgraded milestones that are mixed in with equity, research anddevelopment support and straight milestones. It's a significant sum, butwe've agreed not to disclose the specific financial terms and amounts."They've assumed responsibility for the bulk of the preclinical andclinical activity, and we will continue certain research and developmentactivities at our site," Beck said.CytoMed has the option to co-develop and co-promote in the U.S. inexchange for a split of profits, Beck said, and will get a royalty in otherareas. He said the actual target areas are still under discussion.It is CytoMed's first substantial collaboration, Beck said, adding thatothers are in the works. Chiron, too, has a strategy that involvescollaborative efforts."This is one in a series of licensing arrangements we've made in thepast 18 months, and by no means the last," Larry Kurtz, Chiron's vicepresident of corporate communications, told BioWorld. "We have hada very deliberate and strategic program to acquire new technologiesand product candidates for our therapeutic business."If you're trying to attack trauma and serious infection, there's avariety of approaches, one of which is to attack the complementsystem," Kurtz said. "We felt that was a good approach, and(CytoMed) had the best technology for doing that."The complement system is comprised of a set of proteins that work toeliminate microorganisms and other antigens from tissues and theblood, thus playing a role in the initiation and control of inflammation.However, excessive complement activation occurs with serious injuriesand infections and can result in serious complications.Complement activation pathways involve the formation of twoenzymes, C3 and C5 convertases, that result in the eventual destructionof target cells.n

-- Jim Shrine

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