Three-way approach to personalised medicine

By Mike Nagle

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Pharmacology, Immune system

UK antibody specialists Oxford Genome Sciences (OGeS) has signed
new deals with Medarex and Biosite in order to help it produce
personalised anticancer drugs faster.

Medarex has licensed its transgenic mouse technology for generating therapeutic antibodies to OGeS and Biosite is set to develop companion diagnostic assays for certain OGeS projects. Perhaps most-intriguingly, OGeS has also set up a three-way agreement where Biosite will use the Medarex technology on OGeS' behalf and will carry out the early stage antibody generation, explained Dr Christian Rohlff, CEO of OGeS, in an interview. The deals are part of a plan to move away from being a services and discovery company, and towards becoming a fully-fledged pharma firm. Using their in-house database, OGeS was set up to provide biomarker discovery and screening services to pharma companies, and later moved on to developing their own antibody drugs. However, once the discovery stage was completed, they were forced to partner their programmes but with these latest deals, they can now advance their internal research further. "[This] is an important step in OGeS' transition from target discovery to product development potentially allowing us establish our own pipeline of antibodies in cancer,"​ said Rohlff. While services provide useful short term income for fledgling pharma firms, launching drug products is where the real money is. Rohlff said that instead of each company investing in the other, they are essentially swapping technology. "Everyone is a winner and everyone is happy,"​ he said. "We are now well positionedto develop our own antibody therapeutics with companion diagnostics in a very efficient and productive way, thereby establishing ourselves as a major player in the field of personalised antibody medicines." ​ What attracted Medarex and Biosite to OGeS was the Oxford Genome Anatomy Project (OGAP), which is claimed to be the world's largest proteomic / genomic data integration system. The information in the database is all proprietary and supports finding first- and best-in-class drugs; Rohlff said the company is not developing any me-too drugs to ones already on the market. The database contains all clinical, experimental and expression data from one million peptide sequences from 50 tissues and 60 disease states, mapped to 15,000 genes and around eight million single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and haplotypes. OGeS is currently using this information to accelerate target identification and validation but believes it could be used to re-profile older targets. Clearly, Biosite thinks it will help them develop diagnostic tests, which have the potential to ensure the right patients are selected for treatment - whether in clinical trials or once a drug is approved. Although OGeS was only formed 18 months ago, this intriguing business set up will enable them to speed up the drug discovery process and Rohlff expects the first antibody to enter the clinic in the next year. With regards to what the target might be, or in which cancer indication, Rohlff remained tight-lipped but he said the company has the capability to work across "all major cancers."​ He also said that its discover focus is currently "all on antibodies and all on cancer."

Related topics: Preclinical Research, Preclinical

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