Shionogi, who have carved out a niche in antiviral treatments, are now looking for the chance to expand their product line. Like fellow Japanese pharmaceutical company, Tanabe, they are also looking to establish relationships with European and American companies to prepare pipelines for future drugs.
Under the terms of the three-year agreement, MorphoSys grants Shionogi access to its HuCAL GOLD antibody library for use in Shionogi's pharmaceutical drug discovery programs.
The objective is to speed up and improve the capabilities of Shionogi's pharmaceutical drug discovery programs. Shionogi will be trained by MorphoSys to use the HuCAL technology and will use HuCAL GOLD at its premises in Japan, to identify new target molecules.
In return, MorphoSys stands to receive an up-front payment and annual user fees during the life span of the agreement. Further financial details were not disclosed.
The latest agreement is just one part of Morphosys' plans to penetrate the Japanese market.
In September 2004, MorphoSys formed a strategic marketing cooperation with the Tokyo-based company, GeneFrontier Corporation, in order to access the Japanese life science market.
The objective of the cooperation is to drive new business opportunities by establishing the HuCAL technology of MorphoSys as the premium brand for both research and therapeutic antibody generation in Japan.
GeneFrontier supports MorphoSys in sales and marketing actions for custom monoclonal antibodies, currently marketed under the brand "Antibodies by Design." Several research projects conducted with Japanese partners have already been successfully completed.
A spokeswoman for MorphoSys told DrugResearcher.com: "The GeneFrontier deal acts as "door-opener," to establish contact to Japanese pharmaceutical companies, such as Shionogi."
"The deal with Shionogi is the first collaboration for MorphoSys with a Japanese pharmaceutical partner, and will help us to increase the MorphoSys profile and the acceptance for fully human antibody libraries such as HuCAL GOLD," she added.
HuCAL GOLD is an antibody library developed by MorphoSys. The technology itself is a concept for the in vitro generation of human antibodies. HuCAL provides a transition from a rapidly generated antibody fragment with binding characteristics to a fully human antibody drug candidate.
HuCAL is also a direct source of antibodies for all kinds of diagnostic and therapeutic applications.