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MDS Proteomics Partners With Abgenix to Identify Protein Targets, Develop Antibodies

NEW YORK, June 29 – MDS Proteomics will to identify up to 150 proteins as drug targets in a collaboration with antibody-based pharmaceutical company Abgenix, and in return Abgenix has agreed to make a $15 million equity investment in MDS Proteomics, the companies said Friday.

The Abgenix deal is MDS Proteomics' first partnership with a pharmaceutical company, but the second time an outside company has bought a significant chunk of the company’s stock. In January, IBM invested $10 million in a partnership to develop a database of protein interactions called BIND. MDS and IBM are sponsoring a public version of the database in addition to a proprietary database at MDS Proteomics in Toronto.

MDS Proteomics said in a statement that it would identify protein targets that Abgenix—either alone or together with MDS—would use to generate potential antibody therapeutics to treat a broad range of diseases. Last week MDS Proteomics chief business officer Caroline Popper told GenomeWeb that the deal essentially allowed the two partners to evenly split the number of targets each partner can claim as their own.

Both companies will receive reciprocal milestone and royalty payments for any products that result from the partnership.

MDS Proteomics’ current platform of technology revolves around identifying proteins from human cells and studying their function using a combination of molecular baits, mass spectrometry, and cell signaling models. The company has about 30 mass spectrometers running at its Toronto facility, and has identified seven protein targets currently in preliminary screening for antibody development, MDS Proteomics CEO Frank Gleeson said in May.

Abgenix, based in Fremont, Calif., has developed a platform for expressing fully human antibodies in mice. The company has drug discovery collaborations with a number of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and genomics companies, including Pfizer, Amgen, Lexicon Genetics, and Human Genome Sciences.

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