GAITHERSBURG, Md., Dec. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, announced that it has signed an in-licensing agreement with Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: PGNX) for Progenics' Clostridium difficile late-stage preclinical program. The agreement was led by MedImmune's Infectious Diseases & Vaccines Innovative Medicines (iMed) Unit. Clostridium difficile infections are the leading cause of hospital-acquired bacterial infections in the U.S. and are associated with more than 20,000 deaths and more than $1 billion in healthcare costs annually. The disease causes severe diarrhea in patients and significantly lengthens the time patients stay in the hospital, leading to poorer outcomes. MedImmune's program for this property will assess the potential efficacy and safety of treatment of the infection with investigational monoclonal antibodies targeting toxins that mediate the disease. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. "This deal exemplifies MedImmune's commitment to researching and developing new and better treatments for addressing serious bacterial infections," said Steve Projan, Senior Vice President and Infectious Disease iMed Head at MedImmune. "The Clostridium difficile program fits strategically within our infectious disease portfolio and adds to our existing programs that aim to prevent and treat serious bacterial infections, particularly among high-risk patients." Preliminary research from the program suggests that the antibodies being developed are highly potent against most of the strains found in the U.S. and Asia, and are potent against hypervirulent strains, which produce higher amounts of toxins and are a main contributor to the growing rate of the disease. "The burden C. difficile infection puts on patients' lives and our healthcare systems is a substantial one," said Mark R. Baker, Progenics' Chief Executive Officer. "As a company with a strong heritage in medical research, Progenics is pleased to have this product candidate in MedImmune's hands where it has the potential to improve human health."