Boehringer Ingelheim and Micromet have entered into a collaboration for the research, development and commercialisation of a new antibody-based treatment of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow that remains largely incurable.
Micromet, which was founded in 1993 as a spin-off from the Institute for Immunology at Munich University, Germany, merged with CancerVax Corporation in 2006 and has been listed on Nasdaq ever since. The biotechnology company carries out research and development at its Munich site, and has its legal headquarters in Bethesda (Maryland, USA). In contrast to normal antibodies, the company's proprietary BiTE antibodies induce an active reaction of the immune system. Micromet recently acquired 70 million US dollars for the further development of its products.
Despite recent advances in the treatment of multiple myeloma, the disease remains largely incurable. While the majority of patients initially responds to the treatment, almost all of them will eventually relapse, said a spokesperson for the two companies. The disease, which is also called plasmocytoma, is characterised by the malignant proliferation of antibody-producing cells (plasma cells). Multiple myeloma affects mainly elderly patients and accounts for around one per cent of all tumours.
By combining Micromet's BiTE antibody platform and Boehringer's expertise in target identification and development, the companies believe that their partnership will lead to new therapeutic options for treating this particular type of tumour. Under the terms of the agreement, Micromet is in charge of the discovery of the BiTE antibody and will jointly conduct further preclinical studies with Boehringer Ingelheim. Boehringer Ingelheim is responsible for all manufacturing activities, clinical development and worldwide commercialisation subject to Micromet's co-promotion rights in the USA. Under the terms of the agreement, Boehringer Ingelheim will make an upfront cash payment of 5 million euros to Micromet. Micromet is also eligible for development and regulatory milestone payments of up to 50 million euros when certain milestones are reached.