MorphoSys starts novel drug development program for MRSA infections

15 Sept 2010

Munich-based biotechnology company MorphoSys AG has started a new proprietary development program against novel infectious disease targets.

As part of this initiative, the company has signed a license and collaboration agreement with Sheffield-based Absynth Biologics, providing access to novel target molecules associated with Staphylococcus aureus infections including MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus).

MorphoSys will generate antibodies using its proprietary HuCAL PLATINUM antibody library which Absynth will test in relevant disease models. MorphoSys will be solely responsible for the development and partnering of the resulting compounds.

“This collaboration brings together Absynth’s novel, proprietary targets and expertise in S. aureus including MRSA and MorphoSys’s expertise in the generation of antibody drugs. We see these new targets as a very promising basis of antibody therapy for an increasingly serious medical problem,” commented Dr Simon Moroney, Chief Executive Officer of MorphoSys AG.

“Our goal is to create a valuable package of proprietary targets together with high-affinity antibodies, supported by compelling data, which will allow us to partner the program for subsequent development. The targets identified by Absynth represent a unique opportunity to generate value rather quickly and create out-licensing opportunities much earlier than in the areas of cancer and inflammation, which remain however the main focus areas for our discovery and development organization.”

“We are delighted to be collaborating with MorphoSys,” commented Dr Fiona Marston, Chief Executive, Absynth Biologics Limited. “The synergies between our technologies enhance the prospects of creating products to benefit patients suffering from S. aureus infections.”

Absynth’s genomics-based approach allows identification of previously overlooked targets, such as bacterial components which are crucial to the organism, conserved across different bacterial strains and accessible for antibodies. Absynth has demonstrated that monoclonal antibodies against the targets in-licensed by MorphoSys inhibit the growth of S. aureus and recruit the human immune system to eliminate bacteria via phagocytosis. Absynth has filed patent applications on all targets involved in the collaboration.

Hospital-acquired or nosocomial infections are a growing public health concern and are associated with increasing levels of mortality. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the United States alone about 1.7 million nosocomial infections and 99,000 associated deaths occur each year. These infections are caused by micro-organisms including drug-resistant MRSA. In the United Kingdom, S. aureus accounts for almost half of all hospital-acquired infections.


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