Biogen Idec has stocked up its pipeline with the purchase of three antibody drugs from Protein Design Labs in a stock and cash deal totaling $140 million dollars. However, should the compounds prove effective, Biogen Idec stands to pay an additional $660 million.

The deal includes co-development and commercialisation rights for daclizumab in combating multiple sclerosis. This news alone will have cheered investors still reeling from Biogen Idec’s withdrawal of the MS drug Tysabri (natalizumab) following the death of a patient from a rare central nervous system condition [[01/03/05a]]. And the agreement also covers the shared development and commercialization of two other antibody drugs, M200 (volociximab) and HuZAFTM (fontolizumab), in all indications.

Mark McDade, Chief Executive Officer, PDL, said: "We are obviously excited to forge this collaboration that advances our pipeline, accelerates our path to sustainable positive cash flow and paves the way to commercialization of the next wave of PDL products. From our perspective, this alliance enables both companies to share costs and risks of developing products that address large market opportunities, while leveraging our respective development, manufacturing and commercial strengths."

In addition to the Phase II compound daclizumab, which binds to the interleukin-2 receptor to inhibit the inflammatory response associated with MS, M200 (volociximab) is a novel antibody that inhibits the formation of new blood vessels, a process necessary for tumor growth. Three Phase II clinical trials of volociximab in kidney cancer, melanoma and pancreatic cancers were initiated in the first half of 2005, with a fourth in non-small cell lung cancer anticipated to begin shortly. Finally, Huzaf (fontolizumab) binds to interferon-gamma, an important immunoregulatory cytokine, which may be useful in treating a variety of autoimmune diseases.