Pfizer Licenses Transgenic Mice Tech to Make Human MAbs

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Monoclonal antibodies Pfizer

Pfizer Licenses Transgenic Mice Tech to Make Human MAbs
Harbour Antibodies has received a double boost this week raising $3.3m (€2.5m) for its transgenic H2L2 mice technology and adding Pfizer to its list of clients. 

The company licenses its transgenic mice to biopharma firms that use them to generate human antibody-based biologics and Pfizer has become the third to put its name on Harbour's books, following Eli Lilly and ShangPharma.

Pfizer's Dean Mastrojohn told that: “The agreement with Harbour Antibodies gives Pfizer the ability to potentially produce human monoclonal antibodies [MAbs],” ​but declined to reveal the specifc therapetuic focus of the research.

“Monoclonal antibodies are already an important part of our pipeline and will continue to be,” ​he said. “Pfizer continues to innovate technologies to design and develop the next-generation of antibody therapies.”

According to Harbour’s co-founder and CSO, Dr. Frank Grosveld, “there is a need for new transgenic mouse platforms to meet the continuing demand for human antibody therapies,”​ and the firm's H2L2 mice aid pharma by accelerating and lowering costs of drug discovery and development.

Mouse in-House?

The $3.3m financing, led by Atlas Venture, allows Harbour to continue R&D and commercialisation of its transgenic mouse platform, the firm said in a statement that also announced the appointment of  BJ Bormann as CEO.

MAbs are “a critical component in advancing the treatment of cancer,”​ said Bormann, and “until now, the capabilities provided by human antibody transgenic mice have been restricted to only a few large pharmaceutical companies.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb acquired Medarex​ and its UltiMAb Human Antibody Development System in 2009 for $2.1bn, and Amgen bought Abgenix in 2005 for $2.2bn, including the proprietary fully human MAb technology, XenoMouse.

The Pfizer, Shangpharma (2012) and Lilly (2011) deals with Harbour point to a move away from in-house platforms, as do recent partnerships from Open Monoclonal Technology (OMT) who has licensed out its OmniRat platform to two contract research organisations - WuXi​ and GenScript​ - in the last year.

The OmniRat technology uses rats instead of mice and, according to OMT​, is a superior method of antibody production. “The mouse can be expensive to license and pre-existing intellectual property can restrict development options.”

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