12:00 AM
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Jan 22, 2007
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Offshore shopping

In the past, most Western companies that went to Japan were looking for local big pharma companies to develop and market their compounds in Japan. In recent years, more companies have reversed the paradigm and are looking to in-license compounds from Japanese pharmas. Recent deals by two U.S. companies show how relationship-building in Japan has paid off.

MedImmune Inc. is cashing in on three years of such global outreach, recently adding a pair of antibody programs from Japanese partners to complement its work in inflammatory disease. Separately, Aveo Pharmaceuticals Inc. is building an oncology pipeline by reaching out to mid-sized Japanese pharma companies.

Bearing fruit

Looking to supplement its internal pipeline of immunology, oncology and infectious disease programs, MedImmune (MEDI, Gaithersburg, Md.) began emphasizing foreign relationship-building about three years ago, according to Edward Mathers, EVP of corporate development and venture. The decision paid its first dividends late in 2005 in a deal with Biota Holdings Ltd. (ASX:BTA, Melbourne, Australia) for a preclinical portfolio of oral small molecules to prevent and treat respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection (see BioCentury, Dec. 19, 2005).

MEDI already has a franchise in the space, as it markets its injectable Synagis palivizumab MAb to prevent RSV in infants, and has NuMax motavizumab (MEDI-524) in Phase III trials for the indication.

Also in late 2005, MEDI received non-exclusive rights to Potelligent antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) technology from Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Ltd. (Tokyo:4151, Tokyo, Japan) (see BioCentury, Dec. 12, 2005).

MEDI boosted its Japanese deal profile last month, when Kyowa Hakko's BioWa subsidiary granted rights outside Japan and certain Asian countries to develop and commercialize inflammatory disease therapies targeting IL-5 receptor (see BioCentury, Jan. 1).

The collaboration initially will focus on developing BIW-8405, a MAb in Phase I testing for asthma. The humanized MAb has been shown to neutralize IL-5 activity in preclinical models, resulting in a depletion of eosinophils and a...

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