Agreement with Debiopharm marks first jointly owned program.

MSM Protein Technologies (MSM) signed separate deals with Merck Serono and Debiopharm focused on the development of antibodies against multispanning GPCR targets. Under the R&D collaboration with Merck Serono, MSM will receive an up-front payment in addition to development and commercialization milestones as well as product royalties.

The deal includes not only GPCR targets but also other cell membrane targets. The company will also provide its technology and expertise for displaying selected targets in their native form and work with Merck Serono’s scientists to apply the technologies in various drug discovery platforms.

MSM’s deal with Debiopharm will see the companies work together to identify antibodies against the latter’s novel GPCR target, Debio 0929, for new oncology applications. After the discovery phase, Debiopharm will have a worldwide, exclusive license for developing and commercializing any resulting antibody products. MSM will retain marketing rights for Russia, Ukraine, and certain other countries in Eastern Europe and Asia.

Davis Pharma, MSM’s chairman, calls the Debiopharm deal “transformational” for his company. “It represents our first jointly owned program with a global partner.”

Rolland-Yves Mauvernay, president and founder of Debiopharm, describes the agreement as a “win-win” situation. “We usually license-in compounds with existing animal proof of concept, but we were seduced by MSM’s technology and their expertise in the generation of antibodies aimed at GPCRs.”

Established in 2005 to commercialize technology originally developed by the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, MSM concentrates on generating, selecting, and optimizing human antibodies against multispanning membrane protein targets.  Multispanners are integral membrane proteins comprising polypeptide chains that traverse the lipid bilayer several times and are often intractable to current drug discovery approaches, MSM points out. The company’s technologies including SIMPL™ and magnetic proteoliposome particle platforms allow multispanners such as GPCRs to be displayed in highly concentrated and purified form while retaining native conformation and orientation. The company says this maximizes the potential for raising functional antibodies against them.

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