Cambridge Antibody Technology Acquires Oncology Product Candidates from Genencor

Nov 01, 2005, 00:00 ET from Cambridge Antibody Technology

    CAMBRIDGE, England, Nov. 1 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Cambridge Antibody
 Technology (London: CAT); (Nasdaq:   CATG) today announces the acquisition of
 product candidates GCR-3888 and GCR-8015 from Genencor, a subsidiary of
 Danisco, based in Palo Alto, California.  GCR-3888 has shown efficacy in a
 Phase I clinical trial and is currently in a Phase II clinical trial for the
 treatment of hairy cell leukemia (HCL).  GCR-8015, an optimized version of
 GCR-3888, is in pre-clinical development as a potential treatment for B-cell
 malignancies including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic
 leukemia (CLL).  The candidates are both immunotoxins comprising an antibody
 fragment that targets the CD22 receptor on B-lymphocytes fused to a toxin
     CAT has hired ten key former staff of Genencor who will continue to be
 responsible for the development of these programs, and has thereby established
 a CAT operation in the U.S. for the first time.  This will be based in Palo
 Alto, California.
     The consideration for the acquisition is up to US$16 million, of which
 US$14 million will be paid by CAT on closing, expected to be Friday November
 4, 2005.  Simultaneously Genencor will subscribe US$14 million for 1,170,277
 new CAT ordinary shares (representing 2.27 percent of CAT's existing issued
 share capital).  CAT may be required to pay Genencor additional consideration
 of up to US$2 million, contingent on the availability for use in a clinical
 trial of bulk product material of GCR-8015 produced by Genencor.
     GCR-3888 and GCR-8015 were discovered and initially developed by the
 National Cancer Institute (NCI), which is part of the U.S. National Institutes
 of Health (NIH).  Genencor licensed the candidates for hematological
 malignancies and entered into a cooperative research and development agreement
 (CRADA) with the NIH, which will now be continued by CAT.  Under the original
 license agreement with the NIH, CAT will have rights to a portfolio of
 intellectual property associated with the programs and will pay future
 royalties to the NIH.
     The NCI has demonstrated significant efficacy of GCR-3888 in a Phase I
 clinical trial in HCL.  The results of a trial in 46 patients, performed at
 the NCI, with CD22+ NHL (n=4), CLL (n=11) and HCL (n=31), were recently
 published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Vol. 23 No. 27 September 20
 2005) including data from 265 cycles of treatment.  Results showed that GCR-
 3888 was active in HCL, with 19 complete remissions (61%) and 6 partial
 responses (19%) in 31 patients.  Lower, but significant, activity occurred in
 CLL.  The publication concluded that the drug was well tolerated and highly
 effective in HCL even after one cycle of treatment.
     CAT intends to file an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for GCR-
 8015 in various CD22 positive B-cell malignancies, including NHL and CLL,
 following a period of manufacturing development which is expected to be
 complete by the end of 2006 and to support the NCI's ongoing development of
 GCR-3888 in HCL and pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (pALL).
     GCR-3888 is an immunotoxin fusion protein between a murine anti-CD22
 disulphide-linked Fv antibody fragment (dsFv) and the Pseudomonas exotoxin
 PE38, and GCR-8015 is an optimized version of GCR-3888 with increased affinity
 for CD22.  CD22 is a regulatory molecule that acts to prevent the over
 activation of the immune system and the development of autoimmune diseases.
 The anti-CD22 immunotoxins GCR-3888 and GCR-8015 comprise a dsFv that targets
 the CD22 receptor, fused with a specifically engineered toxin molecule that
 minimizes non-targeted toxicity, resulting in a highly specific, highly potent
 therapeutic molecule.  The molecule acts by releasing the toxin
 intracellularly, after the whole immunotoxin has been internalized via the
 CD22 receptor.
     Peter Chambre, Chief Executive Officer of CAT, commented: "The acquisition
 of these product candidates is a significant step forward, accelerating the
 development of our proprietary pipeline.  In particular, they signal our
 intention to focus our proprietary research and development activities in
 oncology indications, where we believe the opportunities are greatest for a
 company of CAT's resources and technological capabilities.  In addition, the
 transaction has enabled CAT to establish its first presence in the USA.  We
 are delighted to welcome the development team associated with these important
 product candidates to CAT.  They provide a core of oncology development
 expertise to CAT for the future."
     Dr. Patrick Round, Vice President Development of CAT, commented: "Despite
 the progress that has been made in treating patients with these forms of
 cancer over the past decade, there remains a significant unmet medical need
 for those patients who are either refractory to the current treatments or who
 unfortunately relapse.  GCR-3888 has demonstrated the potential opportunity
 from utilizing this immunotoxin approach in HCL and we look forward to
 exploring the mechanism in a wider range of B-cell malignancies, including NHL
 and CLL, and to working in collaboration with the NCI."
     Application has been made to the UK Listing Authority for the 1,170,277
 new CAT ordinary shares, to be issued to Genencor, to be admitted to the
 Official List and to be admitted to trading on the London Stock Exchange's
 market for listed securities.  It is expected that admission of these shares
 will become effective on Friday November 4, 2005.
     Notes to Editors:
     Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT):
      * CAT is a biopharmaceutical company, aiming to bring improvements to
        seriously ill patients' lives and thereby create outstanding returns
        for shareholders.  CAT seeks to develop products independently and in
        collaboration with partners, using its capabilities and technologies in
        the discovery and development of new and innovative antibody medicines
        in selected therapeutic areas.  CAT also seeks to license its
        technologies to enable others to develop new medicines.
      * HUMIRA(R), licensed to Abbott, is the first CAT-derived antibody to be
        approved for marketing.  It was isolated and optimized in collaboration
        with Abbott and has been approved for marketing as a treatment for
        rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 57 countries, and for psoriatic arthritis
        and early RA in some European countries and the U.S.
      * There are six further CAT-derived antibodies licensed to partners at
        various stages of clinical development: ABT-874 (Abbott),
        LymphoStat-B(TM), HGS-ETR1, HGS-ETR2, ABthrax(TM) (all Human Genome
        Sciences (HGSI)) and MYO-029 (Wyeth).  CAT has also licensed its
        proprietary technologies and patents to several companies.  CAT's
        licensees include Abbott, Amgen, Chugai, Dyax, Genzyme, HGSI, Merck &
        Co, Micromet, Pfizer and Wyeth, and three antibody drug candidates are
        in clinical development at patent licensees.
      * There are two further human therapeutic antibody product candidates in
        clinical development: CAT-354, a proprietary CAT product, and GC-1008,
        in collaboration with Genzyme.
      * CAT has a broad collaboration with Genzyme for the development and
        commercialization of antibodies directed against TGF Beta, a family of
        proteins associated with fibrosis and scarring, and with potential
        application in the treatment of some cancers.
      * CAT has a major strategic alliance with AstraZeneca to discover and
        develop human antibody therapeutics, principally in inflammatory
        disorders.  This provides CAT with the opportunity to build a
        substantial pipeline of antibody therapeutics with a significant
        pharmaceutical partner.
      * CAT has a co-development collaboration with Zenyth (formally Amrad)
        against GM-CSF Receptor, a potential drug target in the development of
      * CAT has an advanced proprietary technology for rapidly isolating human
        monoclonal antibodies using Phage Display and Ribosome Display systems.
        CAT has extensive phage antibody libraries, currently incorporating
        more than 100 billion distinct antibodies, which form the basis for the
        Company's strategy to develop a portfolio of antibody-based drugs.
     Business Background:
      * CAT is based near Cambridge, UK, with a new site in Palo Alto, USA.
        CAT currently employs around 290 people.
      * CAT is listed on the London Stock Exchange (CAT) and on NASDAQ (CATG).
      * More information can be found at
     Genencor Background:
      * Genencor was formed in 1982 as a protein optimization company to supply
        enzymes to the industrial, consumer and agri-processing markets.
      * In 2001, Genencor entered the healthcare sector and floated on the
        U.S. stock exchange as Genencor, Inc.
      * In 2004, the company decided to focus its therapeutic activities on
        oncology and in December of that year in-licensed two anti-CD22
        immunotoxin programs from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) --
        GCR-3888 and GCR-8015.  A Cooperative Research and Development
        Agreement (CRADA) with the NCI was also entered to collaborate on the
        clinical and pre-clinical development of both programs and to create a
        'next-generation' anti-CD22 immunotoxin with reduced risk of
      * In early 2005, Danisco, a global supplier of food ingredients, acquired
        Genencor as a strategic move to help position Danisco as a major player
        in industrial enzymes.  Danisco stated that it had no interest in
        maintaining Genencor's healthcare division and announced its intention
        to divest the assets on 1 August 2005.
     Application of the Safe Harbor of the Private Securities Litigation Reform
 Act of 1995: This press release contains statements about Cambridge Antibody
 Technology Group plc ("CAT") that are forward looking statements.  All
 statements other than statements of historical facts included in this press
 release may be forward looking statements within the meaning of Section 21E of
 the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  These forward looking statements are
 based on numerous assumptions regarding the company's present and future
 business strategies and the environment in which the company will operate in
 the future.  Certain factors that could cause the company's actual results,
 performance or achievements to differ materially from those in the forward
 looking statements include: market conditions, CAT's ability to enter into and
 maintain collaborative arrangements, success of product candidates in clinical
 trials, regulatory developments and competition.  We caution investors not to
 place undue reliance on the forward looking statements contained in this press
 release.  These statements speak only as of the date of this press release,
 and we undertake no obligation to update or revise the statements.

SOURCE Cambridge Antibody Technology