Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) plays a central role in wound repair and control of inflammation. As a therapy, the protein has a checkered past, with at least one late-stage clinical failure to its name. However, in indications characterized by pathological overexpression of TGF-beta, turning it off may prove more successful. Last week, two companies investigating this approach, Genzyme General and Cambridge Antibody Technology Group plc, partnered to pursue the development of antibodies against TGF-beta to treat fibrotic diseases and cancer.

Companies using TGF-beta as a treatment have met with only partial success. In 1995, Celtrix Pharmaceuticals Inc. (acquired by