MORRIS PLAINS, N.J., Jan. 28, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Immunomedics, Inc. (Nasdaq:IMMU), a biopharmaceutical company primarily focused on the development of monoclonal antibody-based products for the targeted treatment of cancer, autoimmune and other serious diseases, today announced an agreement with Algeta ASA (OSE:ALGETA) for the development of Immunomedics' humanized anti-CD22 antibody, epratuzumab, conjugated with Algeta's proprietary thorium-227 alpha-pharmaceutical payload.
Epratuzumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that binds to the CD22 receptor on the surface of B cells. Epratuzumab has been evaluated for the treatment of a variety of hematological cancers and for autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus.
Under the terms of this agreement, Immunomedics will provide clinical-grade antibody to Algeta, which has rights to evaluate the potential of a Targeted Thorium Conjugate (TTC), linking thorium-227 to epratuzumab, for the treatment of cancer. Algeta will fund all preclinical and clinical development costs up to the end of Phase I testing. Upon successful completion of Phase I testing, the parties shall negotiate terms for a license at Algeta's request according to certain parameters now agreed between the companies. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but include an upfront payment from Algeta to Immunomedics, an antibody delivery milestone and payments for cGMP antibody manufacture.Thomas Ramdahl, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of Algeta, said: "This collaboration brings together Algeta, the global leader in alpha-pharmaceuticals and Immunomedics, a pioneer in antibody products and technologies. A TTC based on a well-validated antibody such as epratuzumab is an exciting prospect as we work to achieve our goal of generating a clinical candidate from the TTC platform in 2014." "We are pleased that soon after the full oncology rights for epratuzumab have been returned to us, we are able to complete this agreement with Algeta," commented Cynthia L. Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Immunomedics. "This agreement is part of our overall strategy for the out-licensing of epratuzumab in oncology, for which we still retain the rights to the unconjugated and non-alpha-emitter-conjugated antibody," Ms. Sullivan continued.