MorphoSys expands 10-year antibody alliance with Novartis

Long-standing agreement will benefit from technologies not available in 2007

German biotechnology firm MorphoSys has expanded its long-term alliance with Novartis of Switzerland.

The firms say the alliance will now benefit from new technologies that were not available when they signed their current agreement in 2007. The aim is to accelerate the discovery of new therapeutic antibodies and to increase the overall productivity of the collaboration. Financial details were not disclosed.

‘Today's announcement marks the commercial launch of our new technology platform Ylanthia,’ said Simon Moroney, chief executive of MorphoSys. ‘We are delighted to kick off this new phase in our growth as the premier source of therapeutic antibodies with our biggest partner, Novartis. This alliance is very successful and will continue to contribute significantly to our overall pipeline of therapeutic antibodies. I'm confident that by adding the newest technologies to our collaboration, we can be even more productive. The benefit will be better therapeutic antibodies, made faster than was previously possible.’

Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, said: ‘A number of programmes have emerged from the collaboration so far, and we're looking forward to adding to them in the years ahead. Novartis is committed to bringing innovative antibody based therapies to market and the collaboration with MorphoSys is a key part of that effort.’

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will apply the entire suite of new technologies available to MorphoSys, including Ylanthia and Slonomics, to make therapeutic antibodies. It is expected that the next-generation Ylanthia platform will follow HuCAL, which is the technology currently used by the partners to source therapeutic antibody candidates. The Slonomics-based technology will be used for precise optimisation of antibody properties.

Novartis will continue to fund a dedicated research team at MorphoSys and pay annual licensing fees as previously until the end of the collaboration in 2017.

The collaboration has resulted in six clinical programmes to date, with four currently being evaluated in Phase II.

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