MorphoSys (Neuer Markt: MOR) and Rehovot-based ProChon Biotech today announced an expanded antibody development agreement, under the terms of which MorphoSys acquires the rights to a portfolio of anti-cancer antibodies in development at ProChon. The agreement gives MorphoSys the exclusive right to develop and commercialize the antibodies for therapeutic applications in the field of oncology. The two companies have also agreed to expand an existing collaboration to work on related antibodies. Financial details were not disclosed but the value of the deal is estimated at million of dollars.

"This agreement represents a significant validation of ProChon's discovery and therapeutic approach for multiple indications targeting aberrant receptors activity. We look forward to expanding our collaboration with the MorphoSys team and to successful clinical developments to benefit cancer patients," said Prof. Avner Yayon, President and Chief Scientific Officer of ProChon.

"This is an important agreement for MorphoSys, since it allows us to develop a set of highly promising anti-cancer antibodies", said MorphoSys CEO Dr. Simon Moroney. "We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with ProChon to develop further antibodies in this class, which may become additional drug candidates".

These antibodies are directed against a human growth factor receptor, FGFR 3 (fibroblast growth factor receptor 3), and were generated by $100 million market cap MorphoSys using their HuCAL technology as part of cooperation between the companies that began in May 2000. FGFR 3, a major development target at ProChon, is a member of a growth factor receptor family that is implicated in skeletal disorders such as dwarfism as well as some forms of cancer.

The antibodies block the function of constitutively activated receptors that have been implicated in various forms of cancer.

MorphoSys develops and applies technologies for the production ofsynthetic antibodies, which accelerate drug discovery and targetcharacterization. The company currently has licensing and researchcollaborations with Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hoffmann-La Roche,ImmunoGen and Schering.