Ambrx Strikes Deal With Wyeth (Soon-to-be Pfizer) to Make Antibody Drugs

9/18/09Follow @xconomy

Ambrx has ginned up yet another potentially lucrative Big Pharma deal. The San Diego-based biotech company has struck a worldwide partnership with Madison, NJ-based Wyeth to create new engineered antibody drugs against multiple diseases.

Financial terms aren’t being disclosed, but Ambrx says it is raking in an upfront payment, research funding, milestone payments based on progress developing drug candidates, as well as royalties on sales of work that translates into marketed products. This deal, combined with Ambrx’s partnerships with three other major drugmakers, means that Ambrx now has enough cash in the bank to operate “multiple years” without seeking additional financing, according to CEO Steve Kaldor.

“We have no lack of interest in the company,” says Kaldor, who adds that he had talks with five different prospective partners before settling on Wyeth in the latest alliance. “We’ve actually been turning down deals.”

The Ambrx story began back in 2003. That’s when Peter Schultz, director of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (and the founder of eight biotech companies) had a new idea for creating new amino acid building blocks for a different class of biotech drugs. These drugs could potentially do whatever you wanted, like last longer in the body, or carry potent cell-killing agents. That work has enabled Ambrx to raise about $106 million in venture capital, build a scientific team of about 80 people, and score five different partnerships with three other major drugmakers to date—Merck, Eli Lilly, and Merck KGaA of Germany.

Ambrx’s two best-known drug candidates are designed to be longer-lasting versions of protein drugs that treat growth deficiencies and multiple sclerosis. But Wyeth, a major drug maker that’s in the process of being acquired by Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), was interested in something new that emerged at Ambrx … Next Page »

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