Monday, February 10, 1997
Several additional genes, a few lawsuits and a missed IPO later, Cell Genesys Inc.'s Abgenix Inc. subsidiary appears to have caught up with GenPharm
International in their race to develop a transgenic mouse that produces high affinity
human antibodies to any antigen.
The picture was different in 1994, when the rivals published separate
papers demonstrating that their mice produced human monoclonal antibodies to several
antigens (see BioCentury, May 2, 1994). GenPharm's HuMAb-Mouse, however, also
enabled class switching and somatic mutation, part of the secondary modification that
produces immunoglobulin G (IgG) high-affinity antibodies. These MAbs are the ones with the
greatest disease fighting potential. CEGE's mice weren't as far along, being unable to
carry out the isotype switching characteristic of a mature antibody response.