MorphoSys and Galapagos to Co-develop Novel Therapeutic Antibodies in Bone and Joint Disease

December 10, 2008

MorphoSys AG (Munich, Germany) and Galapagos NV (Mechelen, Bengium) have launched a long-term co-development alliance aimed at discovering and developing antibody therapies based on novel modes of action in bone and joint disease, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.

MorphoSys AG (Munich, Germany) and Galapagos NV (Mechelen, Bengium) have launched a long-term co-development alliance aimed at discovering and developing antibody therapies based on novel modes of action in bone and joint disease, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.

The alliance spans all activities from target discovery through completion of proof of concept clinical trials of novel therapeutic antibodies. Both companies will contribute their core technologies and expertise to the alliance. Galapagos will provide antibody targets implicated in bone and joint disease in addition to its adenoviral target discovery platform to discover additional targets for antibody development. MorphoSys will contribute its HuCAL antibody technologies to generate fully human antibodies directed against these targets. The initial goal is to further validate the targets through disease-specific in vitro and in vivo testing of the antibodies. After successful validation, the alliance will select antibody programs for preclinical and clinical development. Following proof of concept in human clinical trials, programs will be partnered for subsequent development, approval, and marketing.

Under the terms of the agreement, Galapagos and MorphoSys will share the research and development costs and all future revenues equally. Decisions will be made by a joint steering committee comprising members of both companies. An initial set of three targets implicated in bone and joint disease has been selected for the collaboration, and Galapagos is already commencing with production of these proteins for the alliance. Generation of antibodies directed against these targets will start in 2009. If successful, the first antibody programs based on these novel targets could enter the clinic within four to five years.

Through the alliance with MorphoSys, Galapagos enters the rapidly growing market for therapeutic antibodies. In 2007, total sales for the 20 antibody drugs on the market amounted to more than $25 billion and antibody sales are forecast to increase to approximately $50 billion in 2013. Fully human antibodies are recognized as the next generation and the majority of therapeutic antibodies currently in development are humanized or fully human. The average industry timescale from discovery to preclinical development of antibody therapies is only two to three years, considerably shorter than the average six years for small molecules. Antibodies also incur lower attrition rates than small molecules.