Intercell is buying Cytos Biotechnology’s monoclonal antibody discovery platform for €15 million ($19 million). The deal will give Intercell certain unpartnered monoclonal antibody assets, including preclinical anti-infective candidates discovered by Cytos.
The acquired technology is based on expression cloning of monoclonal antibodies from human B cells. Cytos claims the platform enables the identification of anti-infective antibodies for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, but this is an area outside of its core therapeutic focus of chronic disease vaccines.
Intercell maintains Cytos’ antibody discovery platform will complement its own technologies and open up new applications for its Antigen Identification Program®, which has already resulted in the development of early clinical-stage vaccine candidates against Staphylococcus aureus and Pneumococcal infections. Cytos CEO, Wolfgang Renner, suggested Intercell is “ideally positioned through its Antigen Identification Program to capture the full value of our monoclonal antibody discovery platform.”
Reporting its 2009 annual results back in February, Cytos maintained it had sufficient funds to carry it through into 2012, although the firm recorded a net loss of CHF 24.8 million during the year and cut its full time workforce from 135 to 85. Cytos was also hit by disappointing results from Phase II trials with two of its product candidates: the nicotine vaccine, NIC002, which is partnered with Novartis; and its hypertension vaccine, CYT006-AngQb.
As part of a subsequent restructuring program, Cytos decided to put its monoclonal antibody technology up for sale and focus its research efforts on its partnered programs with Novartis and Pfizer, as well as the development of its in-house Phase II-stage products, CYT003-QbG10 in allergic rhinitis and CYT013-IL1bQb in allergic asthma. Cytos will also continue research with two preclinical programs in inflammation and the hypertension vaccine CYT006-AngQb.
The firm’s collaboration with Novartis covers the Alzheimer candidate, CAD106, which is in Phase II trials, as well as the smoking cessation candidate, NIC002, which is still under evaluation following disappointing Phase II data.
In January 2009, Pfizer exercised options under a 2008 collaboration with Cytos to take out commercial licenses to specified vaccines based on the latter’s flagship Immunodrug™ technology. The original research, option, and license agreement between Cytos and Pfizer was signed in August 2008 and earned Cytos $150 million up front.