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
"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
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
"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
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
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.