On the heels of a Nature Genetics article describing a way toobtain fully human antibodies from mice, GenPharmInternational Inc. is announcing today a collaboration with EisaiCo. Ltd. that could be worth up to $25 million.

The collaboration will focus on developing a specific humanantibody target for an unnamed target. Research and milestonepayments would total $25 million if all benchmarks are metand the product receives approval in Japan for therapeutic use.

In return, Eisai will receive exclusive marketing rights for Asiaas well as certain manufacturing rights. GenPharm will beentitled to royalties from Eisai upon commercialization.

"This agreement with Eisai confirms GenPharm's leadershipposition in the development of completely human antibodiesusing transgenic mice," said Jonathan MacQuitty, GenPharm'schief executive officer. The company published details on thetransgenic mice in the June 1 issue of Nature Genetics.

"We expect this and other collaborations to help further thedevelopment and commercialization of GenPharm's antibodyproducts as we move toward specific therapeutic products,"MacQuitty said.

GenPharm's proprietary transgenic mice had their antibodygenes inactivated and unrearranged human antibody genesadded. Mice resulting from these complex genetic modificationscan be immunized with a wide variety of antigens to producehuman antibodies for therapeutic and diagnostic applications.

Tokyo-based Eisai has significant marketing operations inSoutheast Asia as well as research and development activitiesin the U.S. and the United Kingdom, including both clinical andbasic research.

Eisai has begun a "Pursuit of Excellence" program to invest innew technologies for future pharmaceutical products.

Besides the mouse technology, GenPharm of Mountain View,Calif., also develops and markets transgenic animals for drugdiscovery and testing.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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