Some of these therapeutic targets are not amenable with conventional antibody approaches and this agreement will aim to tap into the therapeutic antibody market, which is fast becoming a major commercial opportunity particularly in the field of immunology and oncology.
Under the terms of the agreement, Domantis will receive $9.2 million (€7.8 million) in upfront and guaranteed research payments. In addition, Domantis will be eligible for pre-clinical and clinical milestone payments of up to $20 million per product, as well as royalties on product sales.
Domantis enter a market, which is currently riding on the back of an expectant pipline full of promise. Seventeen monoclonal antibodies have been approved for use to date and these are expected to generate sales exceeding $9 billion by 2006.
Domantis, a drug development company, have already struck deals with Peptech, Abbott Laboratories, ImClone, Tanox and Argenta Discovery whilst also attracting funding from the European Union for several therapeutic collaborations.
A series of dAb therapies derived from these collaborations should begin to enter the clinic in 2007.
Additional terms of the agreement will see Domantis contribute two of its existing dAb therapeutic programs creating a range of new dAbs to predetermined targets.
Bristol-Myers Squibb will have the exclusive right to develop and commercialise dAb therapeutics discovered during the collaboration.
"We have created a product pipeline from our nine partners and grant programs and we expect to close additional deals in 2006 around several of our preclinical dAb programs," said Robert Connelly, Domantis' CEO.
"We believe this alliance could produce several novel dAb therapeutics for the treatment of important diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, transplant rejection and many others in the fields of both immunology and oncology."
Fully human dAbs, the smallest possible binding fragments of full antibodies, combine the therapeutic benefits of small molecule drugs (formulation and administration versatility, wide therapeutic target range, low cost) with those of full human antibodies (enormous diversity, high specificity, lower toxicity). Thus they have very broad therapeutic relevance.
Domantis has has initiated proprietary therapeutic programs including preclinical dAb therapeutics for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and colorectal cancer.
It is predicted that by by 2008, engineered antibodies will account for more than 30 per cent of all revenues in the biotechnology market.
Smaller recombinant antibody fragments (for example, classic monovalent antibody fragments (Fab, scFv)) and engineered variants (diabodies, triabodies, minibodies and single-domain antibodies) are now emerging as credible alternatives.