Morphotek, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Co., Ltd., has announced that it has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) for the development of therapeutic antibodies to a cancer-associated protein identified by NCI researchers.
Morphotek will apply its proprietary MORPHODOMA antibody technology to the development of novel therapeutic antibodies for use in the treatment of prostate cancer. The NCI will provide its expertise in evaluating the lead antibodies for therapeutic efficacy.
"This agreement is an important addition to our already existing collaborative relationship with NCI to develop novel therapies for the treatment of various cancer types," said Philip Sass, Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Morphotek. “ The NCI brings significant expertise in the evaluation and validation of lead antibodies to cancer-specific proprietary targets, which complements Morphotek ' s expertise in the development of antibodies as potential cancer treatments through biological and immunological mechanisms. ”
Through years of basic research studying tumor cell biology, researchers at the NCI discovered several proteins whose expression is prostate-specific. One of these proteins, referred to as ProCa-1, is a gene product that is expressed on the cell surface in normal prostate and prostate cancer cells, but not in other tissues tested. The gene is expressed in a majority of prostate tumors tested. As part of this CRADA, Morphotek will apply its antibody discovery technology to the development of monoclonal antibodies (mABs) that can bind the ProCa-1 protein and test lead mABs for anti-cancer properties in collaboration with NCI researchers. Leads that show good target binding and tumor specificity will be candidates for possible advancement to preclinical and clinical evaluation.
Prostate cancer develops in the glands of the prostate. It is the most common cancer diagnosed in men, with nearly 220,000 men expected to be diagnosed in 2007, according to the American Cancer Society. One in every six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer throughout his lifetime.
Morphotek, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Co., Ltd., is a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of protein and antibody products through the use of a novel and proprietary gene evolution technology. The technology has been successfully applied to a broad variety of cell lines and organisms to yield genetically diverse offspring that are suitable for pharmaceutical product development in the areas of antibody therapeutics, protein therapeutics, product manufacturing, drug target discovery, and improved output traits for commercial applications. The company is currently focusing its platform on the development and manufacturing of therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer, inflammation and infectious disease.