Denmark’s Genmab says it has regained all rights to the antibody HuMax-TAC from Germany’s Merck KGaA following a portfolio review at the latter’s biopharmaceutical unit Merck Serono.

Genmab granted Serono the worldwide rights to HuMax-TAC back in May 2005. At the time, the Swiss company made an initial payment of $2 million and would have paid up to $38 million for the product that targets the TAC antigen which is overexpressed by activated T-cells. It was thought that by inhibiting the proliferation of T-cells, HuMax-TAC, which was in preclinical trials, may have therapeutic potential in the treatment of autoimmune disorders, inflammatory and hyperproliferative skin conditions, as well as acute transplant rejection. HuMax-TAC is currently in pre-clinical trials.

Genmab chief executive Lisa Drakeman said that the firm “will review the programme internally to decide on future plans” for the antibody and it was noted that regaining the rights to HuMax-TAC does not influence Genmab's financial guidance for the year, the group said.

The tone of the announcement was different to last month, however, when Genmab expressed its delight at regaining the rights from Merck to the HuMax-CD4 (zanolimumab) antibody which is in Phase III trials for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and in Phase II for non-cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. At the time Merck said the deal had been driven by “internal project prioritisation” and the move was “in no way a reflection of the efficacy of HuMax-CD4". No such statement was forthcoming this time around for HuMax-TAC.