Genmab and ACE BioSciences to Develop Product to Treat Fungal Infections


COPENHAGEN, Denmark -- Genmab A/S and privately held ACE BioSciences A/S announced today that they will develop an antibody therapeutic product with the potential to treat fungal infections. The antibody will be directed against a novel target on Aspergillus fumigatus. This fungus can cause life-threatening infections in patients whose immune systems are compromised, for example cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

The target discovered by ACE BioSciences is the first in the collaboration between Genmab and ACE BioSciences that covers four commercially promising disease targets in the area of infectious diseases. Under the agreement, ACE BioSciences provides novel commercially promising disease targets and Genmab provides human antibody technology to create and develop new antibody products. The two companies share development costs and commercial rights equally.

"After only two years of operation ACE BioSciences has found and validated a significant number of novel protein targets for new treatments of Aspergillus fumigatus," said Ejvind Mortz, PhD, CEO of ACE BioSciences'. "With Genmab we have chosen a promising novel protein target for which Genmab will use their expertise in developing human antibodies for treatment of aspergillosis."

"ACE BioSciences's target discovery skills and Genmab's antibody development capabilities are an ideal combination for discovery and development of antibody based treatments for infectious diseases," said Lisa N. Drakeman, PhD, CEO of Genmab. "Fungal infections are becoming an increasingly urgent health threat and, despite not being adequately treated, currently represent a multi-billion dollar market."

Aspergillus fumigatus is an opportunistic pathogen that causes fungal infections in immunocompromised patients but not generally in healthy individuals who are not susceptible to the disease. In recent years the number of patients with invasive aspergillosis has increased significantly, due to three main reasons: first, the increasing use of chemotherapy for treatment of cancer; second, the increase of transplantation patients treated with immunosuppressive drugs; and third, the increased number of patients with suppressed immune systems, such as AIDS patients. Infection can occur in the lungs and in many organs and tissues, such as heart, liver, eye, nose, ear and skeletal muscle, resulting in conditions such as allergic aspergillosis, aspergilloma and invasive aspergillosis. Early diagnosis, treatment and prevention are very difficult. Drugs such as itraconazole have been used for many years as a treatment, but even so, mortality is still as high as 60 percent to 90 percent.

The U.S. antifungal market was approximately $2.9 billion in 2002. The average annual growth rate in this market is 11 percent, primarily driven by the growing at-risk population.

Genmab A/S is a biotechnology company that creates and develops human antibodies for the treatment of life-threatening and debilitating diseases. Genmab has numerous products in development to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, and intends to assemble a broad portfolio of new therapeutic products arising from research into the human genome. At present, Genmab has multiple partnerships to gain access to disease targets and develop novel human antibodies including agreements with Roche and Amgen. A broad alliance provides Genmab with access to Medarex, Inc.'s array of proprietary technologies, including the UltiMAb platform for the rapid creation and development of human antibodies to virtually any disease target. Genmab is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark and has operations in Utrecht, The Netherlands and Princeton, N.J.

ACE BioSciences is a biotechnology company focused on the development of novel targets and drug leads for infectious diseases caused by bacteria and fungi.

Source: Genmab A/S

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