Roche and Epitomics enter rabbit MAbs agreement

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Monoclonal antibodies Roche

Roche has formed a research collaboration with Epitomics, giving
Roche a license to Epitomics' monoclonal antibody technology
(RabMab technology) for the discovery and development of monoclonal
antibodies to treat cancer and other diseases.

The collaboration adds to Roche's Therapeutic Protein Initiative (TPI), which was set up as a strategic research priority in 2001. The aim is to increase the number and quality of therapeutic protein projects in Roche's research portfolio.

The pharmaceutical giants have been active within this research field, which promises the generation of best-in-class antibody therapeutics in disease areas like oncology, where Roche​ is the global market leader.

Under the terms of the agreement, Epitomics will receive event payments and future royalties from Roche on worldwide sales of products developed from its RabMab technology.

The technology is a departure from conventional methods of biological drug discovery, which use mouse antibodies, Epitomics' approach utilises monoclonal antibodies from rabbits, potentially improving the quality and efficiency of drug discovery.

"RabMabs represent a new approach for the development of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. Its advantages include ultra-high affinity, novel epitope recognition and ease of validation in preclinical studies,"​ said Dr Guo-Liang Yu, CEO and president of Epitomics.

RabMab technology is primarily used for the discovery and development of monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer and other diseases.

Compared to currently available MAb technology on the market, such as mouse hybridomas, the high throughput nature of the technology allows for the simultaneous discovery of disease targets and potential therapeutic antibodies in the same experiments, can shorten the drug discovery and development cycle.

The basic principal for making the antibody is the same as for mouse monoclonals. Rabbit fusion partner cells are fused to rabbit B-cells to create the Rabbit Hybridoma cells.

Hybridomas are then screened to select for clones with specific and sensitive antigen recognition and the antibodies are characterised using a variety of methods.

The deal Roche has made is familiar to those that understand it business ethos. Roche has implemented a strategy in which it strengthens its product pipeline by tapping into the innovation of emerging companies

In July of this year, Roche acquired GlycArt Biotechnology in an attempt to further strengthen Roche's capabilities in the therapeutic antibody research sector, capitalising on their pre-existing collaboration in September 2004.

Roche are considered the worldwide leaders in a market that is expected to reach $26 million (€21.2 million) by 2010, buoyed on by technological advances that allow antibodies to exhibit a specified targeted attack on disease-causing cells or compounds.

The therapeutic and diagnostic monoclonal antibody market is has a wealth of products that are jostling for key position.

The market leaders include Roche/Genentech's Rituxan/MabThera (rituximab) and Johnson & Johnson's Remicade (infliximab).

Now, more recently launched humanised antibodies, including Roche/Genentech's Avastin (bevacizumab) and Herceptin (trastuzumab) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Erbitux (cetuximab), are also starting to make a real commercial impact, along with the first fully human antibody, Abbott's Humira (adalimumab).

Related topics Preclinical Research

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