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Covering its Bases in Antibody Technology, OGS Partners, Invests in Sweden s BioInvent

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Rounding out its antibody and small molecule drug alliances, Oxford GlycoSciences has coupled with Swedish antibody manufacturer BioInvent in a deal that provides OGS with access to phage display technology for producing antibodies to its protein targets, and BioInvent with $5 million in equity financing.

OGS, which already has partnerships with Medarex for producing monoclonal antibodies using its HuMAB-Mouse technology, and with NeoGenesis for producing small molecule ligands, will deliver five protein targets per year over three years to Lund, Sweden-based BioInvent. Of these five targets, BioInvent has the right to choose one per year for the two companies to jointly take forward into drug development, with the rest solely owned by OGS.

That OGS felt it necessary to establish a collaboration with an additional antibody producer may indicate that the Oxford, UK-based company’s protein targets — identified through its 2D gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry platform — were not all amenable to antibody generation through Medarex’s technology. “It’s become increasingly clear to us that ‘one size fits all’ isn’t right, and certain antigens work better with mouse, and some antigens work better with phage,” said Stephen Parker, OGS’ chief financial officer.

Parker added that the deal was also important to OGS because it provided the company with access to current GMP-certified manufacturing capacity at BioInvent for potentially producing antibodies for use in preclinical and clinical trials.

OGS first began working with BioInvent about a year ago as part of a research reagent collaboration, Parker said, “and we were pretty impressed with the quality of what they’ve delivered us.” This time around, OGS plans to make an equity investment of $5 million in BioInvent, subject to approval by BioInvent’s shareholders at the company’s annual meeting next month.

As part of the deal, OGS will also pay BioInvent undisclosed technology access fees and contribute research funding for the four targets per year owned solely by OGS. For the jointly owned targets, the two companies will split equally both the development costs and any future revenues.

Although several companies employing phage-display technology to produce antibodies are mired in disputes over patent infringement, Parker said BioInvent has “a certain level of freedom to operate” through its license of phage-display technology from Dyax. “But until all is settled with all of the lawsuits, it’s impossible to know quite how anybody stands in that area,” he said.

OGS is involved in identifying protein targets suitable for both small molecule and antibody therapeutics, Parker added, but the company has licensed cell fractionation technology from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research for specifically separating membrane-bound proteins, which are more likely targets for antibody drugs.

— JSM

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