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UPDATE: DeCode and Genmab Collaborate on Antibody Development and Diagnostics

NEW YORK, June 12 - DeCode Genetics and Genmab said Tuesday they would collaborate in developing antibodies against DeCode's gene-based drug targets associated with cancer, cardiovascular, and inflammatory diseases.  


The deal is the second explicitly drug-related partnership for Reykjavik-based DeCode, which has had an ongoing collaboration with Roche since 1998 to develop small molecule drugs targeting DeCode's drug targets in diseases such as schizophrenia, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer's disease.  


DeCode and Genmab will contribute equally to the research, development, and commercialization costs, and share equally in any revenues that result from the licensing or sales of products that result from the partnership, according to the companies. 


Financial details were not disclosed, but Genmab CEO Lisa Drakeman said no money would change hands upfront. “This is not a ‘I pay them, they pay me’ deal,” she said.


Copenhagen-based Genmab has licensed technology for generating fully human antibodies from Medarex, of Princeton, NJ. Under their existing agreement, Medarex has the option to participate in Genmab's multi-target European collaborations. Drakeman said that Medarex would most likely join the partnership in order to share in the product rights, and in that case, Medarex would manufacture the therapeutic antibodies and contribute 25 percent of the development costs.


Genmab’s Drakeman added that partnering with DeCode added significant value to their combined scientific research, because together the two companies can take a potential drug through phase II clinical trials before having to partner with a pharmaceutical company. At that point in the drug development process, a therapeutic is worth much more to big pharma, Drakeman said.


In a separate but related deal announced Tuesday, Genmab will pay DeCode to find genetic markers that predict a patient's response to HuMax-CD4, Genmab's antibody treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. 


The HuMax-CD4 deal requires that Genmab provide research funding and milestone payments to DeCode, and its pharmacogenomics and clinical-trials subsidiary Encode, to perform genomic analysis of DeCode's Icelandic and other patient populations. If the research uncovers markers useful for predicting how well a patient might respond to the antibody treatment, DeCode will develop and market a RNA or DNA-based diagnostic tool, the company reported. Genmab will have exclusive royalties and rights to additional intellectual property generated during the research, according to the companies.    

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