Celltech Group plc announced Thursday that it has reached anagreement with a large corporate partner to develop potentialtherapies to block chemical messengers that mediateinflammatory disease and immune disorders.

Celltech, a privately held British company, and Schering-PloughCorp., on behalf of several of its affiliated companies, said theyhave a collaboration and licensing agreement to develop andcommercialize genetically engineered antibodies to selectedcytokines.

By blocking the activity of cytokines, anti-cytokines offertherapeutic potential in treating inflammatory diseases andimmune disorders associated with organ transplants, juvenileonset diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Celltech already has a successful collaboration with Merck & Co.Inc., addressing the role of metalloproteinases in cancer.

"Autoimmune disorders are clearly the holy grail for the nextgeneration of breakthroughs to treat a range of chronicdiseases," said Viren Mehta of Mehta & Isaly, a worldwideresearch house for institutional investors. "Many pathways arebeing researched by many companies. This is another approachthey hope will be successful."

Both companies will work on the design and processdevelopment of the antibodies. Schering-Plough will beresponsible for preclinical testing and evaluation, and will haveexclusive commercialization rights outside the EuropeanCommunity, where Celltech retains co-promotion rights.Celltech will receive payments and royalties on the sale ofproducts outside the European Community.

Celltech has previously announced agreements with othercompanies focusing on its expertise in the design of monoclonalantibodies, including a partnership with American Cyanamidfor cancer applications, and Bayer AG on potential septic shockintervention.

-- Nancy Garcia Associate Editor

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