Enzon Inc. and Creative BioMolecules Inc. announced Mondaythat they have signed collaborative agreements regarding theirrespective -- and similar -- antibody engineering technologies.

The agreements cover Enzon's (NASDAQ:ENZN) single-chainantigen-binding (SCA) protein technology and CreativeBioMolecules' (NASDAQ:CBMI) biosynthetic antibody-bindingsite (BABS) technology.

This collaboration comes one year after the two companiesannounced their intent to negotiate definitive agreements onthe technologies, and culminates what started out as a patentownership dispute.

Under the terms of the agreements, each company will be free,under a non-exclusive royalty-free license, to develop and sellproducts using the technology claimed by both companies'antibody engineering patents. Each also would be free tomarket products in collaboration with third parties (whichwould be required to pay royalties on any products covered bythe patents.) Enzon of Piscataway, N.J., will have the exclusiverights to market licenses under the Creative BioMolecules'patents, with any royalties to be shared by both companies.

"We are pleased to finalize this alliance, which will permitcompanies to use the SCA/BABS technology while minimizingnegotiations and the possibility of conflicts of ownership,"commented R. Douglas Hulse, Enzon's vice president of businessdevelopment.

The conflict started in August 1990, when CreativeBioMolecules of Hopkinton, Mass., asked the Patent andTrademark Office (PTO) to declare an interference against apatent on SCAs (U.S. Patent No. 4,946,778) just granted to whatwas then Genex Corp. Creative Biomolecules filed its patentapplication on BABS in 1987. In June 1991, the PTO entered asummary judgment against Creative BioMolecules in theinterference. Although Creative BioMolecules appealed thatdecision, in September 1992 the U.S. Court of Appeals decidedin favor of Enzon (which acquired financially strapped Genex inOctober 1991).

Both SCAs and BABS are developed using genetic and proteinengineering technology. The short polypeptide chains containonly the binding sites of monoclonal antibodies; they've beenshown to provide the binding specificity and affinity ofconventional antibodies in a smaller form that can be easilymodified.

Enzon has already granted non-exclusive licenses to the SCAtechnology to Neoprobe Corp., Hybritech Inc., BaxterInternational Inc., Oncologix Inc. and Cell Genesys. Thecompany also has a research collaboration involving SCAtechnology with Cytoclonal Pharmaceuticals Inc., andPharmacia uses the technology it markets in kits to expressSCA in phage and screen for new SCAs, explained Enzon's Hulse.And Creative BioMolecules has collaborations based on theBABS technology with Chiron Corp., the National CancerInstitute, Antisoma Ltd. and Oncologix Inc.

Enzon's stock closed unchanged Monday at $6 a share; CreativeBioMolecules's stock closed at $9.38 a share, down 13 cents.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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