Potential SARS Treatment to be Developed by Medarex and Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories

PRINCETON, N.J. and JAMAICA PLAIN, Mass. -- Medarex, Inc. and the Massachusetts Biologic Laboratories (MBL) of the University of Massachusetts Medical School today announced that they have entered into an agreement by which they intend to co-develop fully human antibodies to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The parties plan to use Medarex's UltiMAb technology to generate fully human antibodies to SARS. Under the terms of the agreement, Medarex and MBL expect to share equally the development costs of any antibody products as well as any future revenues arising from these products.

"We are delighted to partner with Medarex to develop a monoclonal antibody to combat SARS," says Donna Ambrosino, MD, director of MBL and professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). "A collaborative effort using appropriate technologies and experience will be necessary to successfully respond to this urgent public health need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has led this spirit of collaboration by isolating the SARS agent and then making information rapidly available to all sources. Dr. Larry Anderson at CDC has provided the isolate to the University of Massachusetts Medical School so that the special containment facilities and expertise at UMass Medical School could be tapped to rapidly create targets for monoclonal antibody development by MBL and Medarex. John Sullivan, MD and Katherine Ruiz de Luzuriaga, MD, will lead a team of scientists at the UMMS Worcester campus who will closely work with the UMMS scientists at MBL."

"MBL is well suited to address the critical need for effective SARS agent, as we are experienced at developing and manufacturing monoclonal antibodies for clinical use," says Ambrosino. "Our mission is to develop biologics to meet the health needs of the public, and MBL is committed to rapidly respond to SARS using the available resources and expertise to contribute to the success of this important collaborative effort with Medarex."

"We believe that MBL's experience in the development of vaccines and biologic products as well as their strong working relationship with public agencies provides us the opportunity to further expand our product development efforts in the area of infectious disease," said Donald L. Drakeman, president and CEO of Medarex.

"We believe that development of a fully human neutralizing antibody to the SARS virus may be a relatively rapid approach to obtain an agent that can limit the disease in infected and exposed individuals," said Israel Lowy, MD, PhD, director of infectious diseases at Medarex. "We expect to work closely with our collaborators at MBL to identify an efficacious antibody that blocks infection."

According to the CDC, SARS is a respiratory illness that has recently been reported in Asia, North America and Europe. Scientists at CDC and other laboratories have detected a previously unrecognized coronavirus in patients with SARS. Cases of SARS continue to be reported mainly among people who have had direct close contact with an infected person, such as those sharing a household with a SARS patient and health-care workers. As of today, more than 4,400 cases of SARS have been reported in 22 countries.

Source: Medarex, Inc.; University of Massachusetts Medical School