Firm will collaborate with academic partner to identify biomarkers for use alongside anti-CD38 product.

MorphoSys has been awarded a €1 million (about $1.26 million) grant by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to support the progression of its multiple myeloma therapeutic antibody MOR202 into clinical development. MOR202 is a fully human, HuCAL-derived antibody targeting the membrane-bound glycoprotein CD38. MorphoSys says it aims to file for approval to start clinical trials with the antibody in Europe before the end of 2010.

“We believe that MOR202 has a very competitive profile and distinct advantages over similar programs in the industry,” remarks Arndt Schottelius, M.D., MorphoSys’ chief development officer. The firm also claims in vivo animal studies have found MOR202 to be more effective at inhibiting tumor growth than the Millennium Pharmaceuticals’ marketed multiple myeloma drug Velcade®.

As part of the development program for MOR202, MorphoSys will work to identify relevant biomarkers in collaboration with the Klinikum rechts der Isar at the university hospital of Munich Technical University. It believes this additional biomarker strategy sets the program apart from other antibody therapeutic candidates.

The anti-CD38 project falls under Munich’s biotechnology initiative known as m4 – Personalized Medicine and Targeted Therapies – A New Dimension in Drug Development in the Munich Region. The initiative achieved high-tech cluster status in a recent German government funding competition.

Its aims are to enhance the efficiency of drug development and help optimize the effectiveness of new drugs through the implementation of personalized and targeted medicine approaches. Managed by BioM Biotech Cluster Development, the m4 project involves more than 100 academic and industrial partners

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