Menarini catches ADC fever
30.10.2012 - Italian Menarini Group and Oxford Biotherapeutics want to jointly develop five antibody-based drugs. The deal is worth €800m.
„I am very pleased to announce this novel strategic alliance, which foresees the development and manufacture of up to five cancer treatment programmes and a total investment of €800m“, said Alberto Giovanni Aleotti, a member of the Board of Florence-based Menarini Group, on 29 October 2012. The ally comes from the UK. The biotech company Oxford Biotherapeutics (OBT) will contribute five of its about 25 antibody and antibody drug conjugate (ADC) programmes, each of which addresses a different cancer indication via a different novel oncology target. Menarini, however, brings in its clinical knowledge so that under the agreements of the collaboration, the Italian pharma corporation will lead the efforts in the manufacture and clinical development of each programme, while OBT will provide the proprietary cancer target, antibody and arming technologies.
The companies plan to work together for about 10 years. Once clinical proof of concept of one or the other programme has been achieved, OBT will complete the clinical development and commercialise these novel antibody-based products in North America and Japan, whilst Menarini will develop and commercialise the products in Europe, CIS, Asia and Latin America. Menarini’s fortitude comes a bit as a surprise because the pharma business has already burned its fingers in antibody-based drugs: Just 16 months ago a Phase III trial of abagovomab, a mouse anti-idiotype monoclonal antibody mimicking the CA-125 antigen found on ovarian cancer cells, could not fulfil the expectations raised in previous studies.