NEW YORK, June 5 - Xerion Pharmaceuticals has signed a license to use Cambridge Antibody Technology's library of human phage antibodies in its protein target validation and internal drug discovery efforts, the companies said Tuesday.
Xerion, based in Martinsried, Germany, will incorporate CAT's phage display technology into its platform for validating protein drug targets because it will give the company easy access to billions of possible antibodies, said Alexander Jaksch, the business development and marketing manager at Xerion. The company will pay CAT an undisclosed fee for the multi-year license.
The company's technology for validating protein targets involves a technique called chromophore-assisted laser inactivation (CALI), initially developed at Harvard University School of Medicine. To study a protein's function, Xerion first generates an antibody that binds to it, and then attaches a chromophore to the antibody. When the antibody-protein complex is irradiated with a laser, the chromophore alters the protein's active site, Jaksch explained, inhibiting its function. The technique is more powerful than just using an antibody to block a protein, said Jaksch, explaining that many antibodies are non-specific, and the CALI technique allows Xerion scientists to control precisely when to disrupt the active site.
In March, Xerion raised $11.1 million euros ($9.4 million) in a second round private placement, and hired Markus Ewert as CEO from Axxima Pharmaceuticals, another Martinsried-based pharmacueutical company. The company has collaborations with TILL Photonics to develop additional CALI-based techniques, as well as with several academic partners, Jaksch said. Last year, the company concluded a pilot project with Aventis. The two companies are currently discussing additional work together, according to Jaksch.
CAT, in Cambridge, UK, has licensed its antibody library to a number of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Genentech, Pfizer, and Immunex.