Cambridge Antibody Technology (CaT), a biomedical companybased in the United Kingdom, has signed a collaborativeresearch agreement with Knoll Ag to isolate human antibodiesagainst a number of specific targets.

CaT of Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, will use its proprietarytechnology to generate the antibodies before turning them overto Knoll for further development. In return, CaT will receive alicense fee, milestone payments and, eventually, royalties onsales of future products. The disease targets for which theantibodies are being developed were not disclosed.

CaT's technology, a phage-antibody system, utilizes largelibraries of phage (viruses that infect bacteria), each of whichdisplays a specific antibody. To select an antibody of interest,the library of phage antibodies is passed over an antigen on asolid surface.

"Phage that display antibody fragments specific for the antigenare retained on the surface," CaT said. "These specific phageantibodies can be eluted with a variety of conditions and usedto infect bacteria to give stable clones. Completely humanantibodies for use as therapeutic products can be generated byadding human constant domains using standard recombinantDNA technology."

The significance of this technology, CaT said, is that it "takesantibody components that have already existed in humans andreshuffles these components to produce an antibody with thespecificity required for a given commercial application. Theresulting product will contain only components which have, ineffect, been tested in humans and will be specific for combatinga particular disease."

Anthony Nixon, CaT's vice president of operations and legalaffairs, told BioWorld that the company can isolate an antibodyto a particular antigen or take an antibody known to bind to anantigen and improve it. He said CaT is primarily formingcorporate partnerships with companies that are looking forantibodies to particular antigens.

CaT, which began operations in January 1990, has strategicalliances with several other pharmaceutical companies. About ayear ago it formed a collaboration with Merck & Co. to improvethe binding characteristics of an HIV neutralizing antibody. Theantibody, 447, binds to the V3 loop of HIV-1 gp120. Mercklicensed the antibody from MedImmune Inc.

CaT recently announced that it created variants of 447 andconstructed the most promising ones into complete humanantibodies with affinities that are seven to 20 times greaterthan the original 447. CaT said it hopes the improved bindingwill improve the biological potency of antibodies. Merck is nowdeveloping the antibodies.

CaT also has agreements with Boehringer Mannheim Corp. fordeveloping a diagnostic system, Pharmacia P-L Inc. ofMilwaukee for development of a research kit, PeptideTechnology Ltd. of Australia for improvement of an antibody,and Igen Inc. of Rockville, Md., for development of a catalyticantibody. CaT also has an agreement with Sumitomo Corp. ofTokyo that it declined to describe.

The company developed the technology for isolating humanantibodies with Greg Winter and other scientists at the MedicalResearch Council (MRC), one of the U.K.'s principal medicalresearch bodies. MRC and Peptide Technology are the foundinginvestors in CaT. Eigel Nielsen, who has established nine start-up companies, is a founder and chairman of CaT; co-founderDavid Chiswell is the general manager.

-- Brenda Sandburg News Editor

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