Monday, 31 January 2011

First HuCAL-based antibody targeting cancer stem cells reaches clinical development

MorphoSys AG announced today that it has received a milestone payment from OncoMed Pharmaceuticals in connection with the initiation of a Phase 1 clinical trial with a HuCAL-derived, fully human antibody. The antibody OMP-59R5, which is part of OncoMed's Notch pathway collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, is now being evaluated in a Phase 1 trial in the US in patients with advanced solid tumours. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that OMP-59R5 decreases the frequency of tumour-initiating cells across a variety of tumor types.

"This promising new program is MorphoSys's first HuCAL drug candidate targeting a validated cancer stem cell pathway," commented Dr. Marlies Sproll, Chief Scientific Officer of MorphoSys AG. "Cancer stem cells potentially offer one of the most attractive targets for attacking a range of tumor types, making this programmme an exciting addition to the overall pipeline of HuCAL-based drugs. This is one of eight partnered programs that moved into the clinic in 2010."

"The advancement into clinical studies of this novel antibody targeting Notch receptors provides a demonstration of our success in applying the HuCAL antibody technology to novel drug discovery," said Paul Hastings, President and Chief Executive Officer of OncoMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. "OMP-59R5 is the second of OncoMed's rapidly emerging pipeline of protein therapeutics targeting cancer stem cells to enter clinical studies and, as such, represents a major achievement for our company."

In June 2006, MorphoSys and US-based biopharmaceutical company OncoMed Pharmaceuticals announced the signing of a license agreement on the use of MorphoSys's HuCAL technology in the research and development of human therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of various cancers, including breast, lung, colon and prostate cancer, by targeting cancer stem cells. In June 2008, the collaboration was extended until the end of May 2010. The contract included an option for OncoMed to develop up to five HuCAL-derived therapeutic antibodies.

MorphoSys's clinical pipeline now comprises ten partnered programmes in Phase 1 and five in Phase 2 development as well as the Company's proprietary programs MOR103, which is in a Phase 1b/2a trial for rheumatoid arthritis, and MOR208, which is in a Phase 1 trial for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.