The first hint that blocking GM-CSF might be useful to treat immune system diseases occurred about 15 years ago, when administration of the protein to treat neutropenia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis was found to exacerbate arthritic symptoms. Since then, most work in RA has been focused on TNF alpha as a target, but by next year two anti-GM-CSF antibodies should be in the clinic.

Last week, Micromet Inc. partnered MT203, a preclinical human antibody against granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor, with Nycomed Group A/S (Roskilde, Denmark). In the deal, which covers certain autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, MITI received E5 million ($6.8 million) up front and is eligible for more than