Transgenic animal technology specialist GenPharmInternational Inc. announced Tuesday that Eli Lilly and Co. hasexpanded its collaborative research program for developinghuman monoclonal antibodies for treating certain cancers.

Lilly reiterated its commitment to privately held GenPharm byincreasing its equity stake as well as various researchpayments for development work. The companies did notdisclose details.

The collaboration was formed in October 1992 to developcancer therapeutics incorporating GenPharm's transgenicmouse-generated human monoclonals with Lilly's drug-targeting technology to form antibody-drug conjugates.

Under the terms of the original agreement, Lilly took an equitystake in GenPharm of Mountain View, Calif., that equaled lessthan 5 percent ownership and committed to research andbenchmark payments. GenPharm is also slated to receiveroyalties on the resulting products.

In return, Lilly received the exclusive worldwidemanufacturing and marketing rights to any monoclonalsdeveloped by GenPharm in the area of interest.

The decision to expand the collaboration was based in largemeasure on GenPharm's reaching a scientific milestone. "Wehave passed through a proof-of-concept phase and are on tothe next level," David Winter, GenPharm's president and chiefoperating officer, told BioWorld. "We're quite pleased (withLilly's decision). It recognizes the value of the technology,"Winter said.

This decision is especially noteworthy, Winter emphasized,given the fact that Lilly has been re-examining andrestructuring many of its biotechnology R&D collaborationslately. For example, Lilly ended a collaboration on an arterialreplacement product with Organogenesis Inc., gave productrights to heart drug Integrelin back to Cor Therapeutics Inc.,expanded its collaboration with Athena Neurosciences Inc. ontherapeutics and diagnostics for Alzheimer's disease, andexercised its option on Centocor Inc.'s heart drug, CentoRx.

"I'm pleased to be on the positive side of the ledger," Wintertold BioWorld.

-- Jennifer Van Brunt Senior Editor

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