LONDON, Dec. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) today announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Domantis Ltd, a leader in developing the next generation of antibody therapies, for 230 million pounds (US$454 million) in cash. Domantis, a privately owned company, will become part of GSK's Biopharmaceuticals Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery (CEDD) while continuing to operate from laboratories in Cambridge, UK. The acquisition agreement is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and is expected to complete in January. "Domantis has pioneered the extension of antibody therapies to potentially far wider applications than has been possible with conventional monoclonal antibodies," said Mike Owen, Senior Vice President, Biopharmaceuticals CEDD, GSK. "Its talent and world-leading technology will complement the work we are already taking forward in the CEDD to put GSK at the forefront of biotechnology." Robert Connelly, Domantis' founding Chief Executive Officer, said, "The agreement with GSK allows us to embed our R&D organization intact within a company committed to fully exploiting the potential therapeutic applications of our technology. I am delighted that GSK has made this major investment in our technology, our people, and our product pipeline." Next-generation antibody therapy Monoclonal antibodies, laboratory-engineered versions of the antibodies found in the natural immune system, can bind with exquisite precision to targets in the body. Yet their therapeutic applications, while growing rapidly, have been constrained by their large molecular size. Currently marketed therapeutic antibodies have to be administered by injection or infusion. Founded in 2000 by Ian Tomlinson and Sir Gregory Winter, Domantis has pioneered the next generation of antibody therapy, which is based on the smallest functional binding units of human antibodies. These units, termed domain antibodies (dAbs), may be administered in inhaled, topical, and, potentially, oral formulations as well as by injection and infusion. The Domantis technology also enables dAbs to serve as building blocks for therapeutics simultaneously directed at more than one disease target. Current research programs at Domantis address diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and multiple myeloma. "When Sir Gregory and I founded Domantis, our aim was to build a world-class R&D team capable of producing a wide range of dAb products that would have a major impact in medicine," said Dr. Tomlinson, formerly of the UK Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB) and now Chief Scientific Officer at Domantis. "The acquisition of Domantis by GSK highlights the tremendous potential and value of dAbs and provides the funding and capabilities to advance a large number of dAb products through clinical testing. Combining the core protein-engineering capabilities, technology, and intellectual property of Domantis with the basic science and clinical and commercial strength of GSK creates an opportunity to advance biopharmaceuticals on a global scale." Dr. Tomlinson will continue to manage the Cambridge laboratories of Domantis while serving as a GSK executive in the Biopharmaceuticals CEDD reporting to Dr. Owen. Sir Gregory, who has been a member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at Domantis, is Deputy Director of both the MRC-LMB and the MRC Centre of Protein Engineering. Biopharmaceuticals at GSK GSK has committed to becoming a leader in biopharmaceuticals by dedicating one of its Centres of Excellence for Drug Discovery to this endeavor. Large pharmaceutical companies traditionally specialize in medicines that are small molecules, administered orally. Biopharmaceuticals, by contrast, are large molecules typically administered by injection or infusion, though research continues in other delivery technologies. Examples of biopharmaceuticals are monoclonal antibodies, therapeutic vaccines, and recombinant therapeutic proteins. The Biopharmaceuticals CEDD is one of nine CEDDs in GSK which focus on specific technologies or therapeutic categories. The CEDDs, consisting of cross-functional teams of scientists and physicians, manage the progression of compounds in the 'middle' of the pipeline, bridging the conventional gap between discovery and development while drawing from the broader resources of the entire R&D organization. Notes to editors: -- Scientists in the laboratories of Sir Gregory Winter first published their work with dAbs in Nature in 1989. The MRC-LMB has remained at the forefront of antibody research since monoclonal antibodies were invented there in the 1970's. -- Domantis this year won the UK Innovation in Drug Discovery & Development Award sponsored by London First and UK Trade & Investment. -- For further information about Domantis, please visit http://www.domantis.com. GlaxoSmithKline - one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies - is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For company information including a copy of this announcement and details of the company's updated product development pipeline, visit GSK at http://www.gsk.com. Cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements Under the safe harbor provisions of the US Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, the company cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by the company, including those made in this Announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Factors that may affect the Group's operations are described under 'Risk Factors' in the 'Operating and Financial Review and Prospects' in the company's Annual Report 2005.