London, UK, 28th February, 2007 – MRC Technology (London, UK), Ginkgo Biomedical Research Institute Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan) and Summit Pharmaceuticals International Corporation (Tokyo, Japan) announced today that MRC Technology (MRCT) and Ginkgo had signed a collaborative research agreement to humanize a mouse antibody under development with Ginkgo for the treatment of SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus).
Dr. Tarran Jones, Director of MRCT’s Therapeutic Antibody Group (TAG) said “SLE is a very important disease area, affecting over 1.5 Million people in the USA without any effective therapies. We are looking forward to using our expertise in successfully bringing a therapeutic antibody treatment for Lupus to clinical trial. TAG is recognised internationally as having a proven track record of success in antibody humanization, extending over 18 years and encompassing around 30 successfully humanized antibodies.”
TAG will use its proprietary humanization technology to generate the humanized clinical candidate. The agreement was initiated and brokered by Summit Pharmaceuticals International which represents and markets the skills and expertise of MRCT in Japan. Ginkgo will pay MRCT an up-front fee, milestone payments, and royalties. Gingko will retain all development and commercialization rights to the antibody. Additional financial terms were not disclosed.
Dr. Ken-ichi Arai, President & CEO of Ginkgo added “We are very happy to collaborate with MRC Technology and to have access to their proprietary technology platform and long experience in the antibody humanization field. This antibody targets ILT7, Immunoglobulin Like Transcript 7. ILT7, a cell surface receptor, is expressed selectively in human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC/IPC) which play a critical role in controlling virus infection through induction of massive amounts of Type I Interferons (IFNs). If uncontrolled, pDC cells can mediate immunopathology and have also been implicated in autoimmune diseases such as SLE. Our antibody may contribute to control pathological functions of pDC to cure autoimmune diseases for which currently no cure has been found.”