Sanofi-aventis is paying Micromet €8 million (about $11.84 million) to develop an antibody against an antigen present at the surface of carcinoma cells. Micromet is eligible for development and regulatory milestones of up to €162 million ($239.77 million), sales-related milestones of up to €150 million ($221.98 million), and royalties on worldwide product sales.
Micromet will use its BiTE technology, which develops antibodies that activate a patient's T cells to seek and destroy cancer cells. The firm is responsible for the discovery, research, and development of the BiTE antibody through the completion of Phase I trials under the supervision of a joint steering committee. Sanofi-aventis will then have full responsibility for further development and worldwide commercialization.
“Micromet's BiTE antibodies represent a promising new approach to treating cancer,” remarks Marc Cluzel, evp R&D, sanofi-aventis. “We believe BiTE antibodies have the potential to significantly expand the treatment options that we can offer to cancer patients in the future.”
Typically, antibodies cannot engage T cells because T cells lack the appropriate receptors for binding antibodies. BiTE antibodies have been shown to bind T cells to tumor cells, ultimately inducing a self-destruction process in the tumor cells. In the presence of BiTE antibodies, T cells have been demonstrated to serially eliminate tumor cells. Through the killing process, T cells start to proliferate, which leads to an increased number of T cells at the site of attack.