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MorphoSys initiates program against drug-resistant MRSA infections

MorphoSys AG has announced a new proprietary development program against novel infectious disease targets. As part of this initiative, MorphoSys has signed a license and collaboration agreement with UK-based Absynth Biologics.

The agreement provides access to novel target molecules associated with Staphylococcus aureus infections, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). MorphoSys will generate antibodies using its proprietary HuCAL PLATINUM antibody library, which Absynth will test in relevant disease models.

MorphoSys will be solely responsible for the development and partnering of the resulting compounds, and Absynth will receive an upfront payment and is eligible for development-dependent milestone payments and royalties. Further financial details were not disclosed.

‘This collaboration brings together Absynth’s novel, proprietary targets and expertise in S. aureus, including MRSA, and MorphoSys’s expertise in the generation of antibody drugs. We see these new targets as a very promising basis of antibody therapy for an increasingly serious medical problem,’ said Dr Simon Moroney, CEO of MorphoSys.

‘We are delighted to be collaborating with MorphoSys,’ commented Dr Fiona Marston, Chief Executive of Absynth Biologics. ‘The synergies between our technologies enhance the prospects of creating products to benefit patients suffering from S. aureus infections.’

Absynth’s genomics-based approach enables identification of previously overlooked targets. Absynth has demonstrated that monoclonal antibodies against the targets in-licensed by MorphoSys inhibit the growth of S. aureus and recruit the human immune system to eliminate bacteria via phagocytosis.

Absynth has filed patent applications on all targets involved in the collaboration.

Hospital-acquired or nosocomial infections are a growing public health concern and are associated with increasing levels of mortality. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the USA alone 1.7 million nosocomial infections and 99,000 associated deaths occur each year. These infections are caused by micro-organisms including drug-resistant MRSA. In the UK, S. aureus accounts for almost half of all hospital-acquired infections.

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