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MorphoSys and the University of Melbourne file new patent applications in MOR103 programme

MorphoSys and the University of Melbourne have recently announced an agreement to cooperate on investigating new therapeutic applications for MorphoSys’s MOR103 program.

MOR103, a human combinatorial antibody library antibody against human granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF), is currently in development for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The collaboration announced today will focus on new therapeutic areas in which GM-CSF has been implicated recently in as-yet unpublished work of researchers at the University of Melbourne. As part of the expanded relationship, new patent applications have been filed, which are intended to broaden the patent position of the anti-GM-CSF approach.

’The University of Melbourne, and in particular the research group of Professor John Hamilton, has long been at the cutting edge of research on GM-CSF. We are excited to be able to deepen our relationship with MorphoSys and help speed the transition of these laboratory insights into clinical applications for the benefit of patients‘, said Dr Charlie Day, CEO of Melbourne Ventures, the technology commercialization company for the University of Melbourne.

’Researchers at the University of Melbourne have now generated evidence for the involvement of GM-CSF in indications beyond those that were already known‘, commented Dr. Arndt Schottelius, Chief Development Officer of MorphoSys AG. ’We look forward to working closely with them to explore the potential of targeting GM-CSF in these additional indications, and expand still further the patent position around inhibitors of GM-CSF. Meanwhile, development of our anti-GM-CSF antibody MOR103 in RA continues according to plan.’

Under the terms of the agreement, MorphoSys will fund research activities at the University of Melbourne in multiple new indications. The University of Melbourne will receive an upfront payment and will be entitled to research funding, clinical milestone and royalty payments. Further financial details were not disclosed.

In 2007, MorphoSys signed an agreement with the University of Melbourne, providing the company with an exclusive license to a patent family covering therapeutic uses of inhibitors of GM-CSF. The claims of the patent are directed to methods of ameliorating the effects of inflammation by administering to a patient an antibody directed against GM-CSF. In November 2008, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) issued the patent U.S. Patent No. 7,455,836, covering key uses of antibodies against GM-CSF. Human GM-CSF is already implicated in a number of medical conditions.

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