Fee relates to the selection of first humanized antibody development candidate.

AVEO Pharmaceuticals received a $5 million milestone fee from Biogen Idec. The payment relates to the selection of the first humanized antibody development candidate from AVEO’s ERbB3-targeting program.

AVEO and Biogen Idec inked their exclusive option and license agreement for the development and commercialization of AVEO’s discovery-stage ErbB3-targeted antibodies during March 2009. The companies aim to develop antibodies for the treatment and diagnosis of cancer and other diseases.

Under the terms of the deal AVEO is responsible for developing ErbB3 antibodies through to completion of proof-of-concept clinical trials that support moving on to Phase III studies. The firm also retains the exclusive right to commercialize ErbB3 antibody products in North America.

Commenting on the latest milestone, Elan Ezickson, AVEO’s CBO, says, “AVEO has built a state-of-the-art antibody drug discovery platform dedicated to the delivery of novel, high-quality oncology antibody drug candidates that has yielded a rich pipeline of product candidates focused on novel targets of growing interest in oncology, such as Notch, RON, and FGFR.”

The company claims ErbB3 is significantly overexpressed in many human cancers, and this overexpression is linked with poor prognosis and potentially resistance to anticancer drugs and/or radiotherapy. AVEO also believes that because ErbB3 preferentially binds to Her2, antibodies targeting ErbB3 may be of particular benefit, in combination with other treatments, for breast cancer patients who do not respond well to anti-Her2 therapy.

AVEO’s ErbB3 antibody program has been developed on the back of the firm’s findings from its Human Response Platform™ (HRP). The HRP technology is essentially a kind of cancer model designed to overcome many of the limitations of traditional xenografts models, the firm claims.

The platform is being used to identify and validate target genes that drive tumor growth as well as to identify drugs that can block the function of these targets and identify which patients are most likely to respond to specific drug treatments. The models are being used to advance drugs in AVEO’s in-house pipeline and those in collaboration with strategic partners like Merck & Co., OSI Pharmaceuticals, and Biogen Idec.

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