Cambridge Antibody Technology, which was recently acquired by AstraZeneca in a £702 million deal, is to outlicence rights to a promising treatment for allergy disorders to Canadian company iCo Therapeutics.

Under the terms of the agreement, financial details of which were not disclosed, CAT has granted the Vancouver-based group an exclusive worldwide licence to develop and commercialise CAT-213, a human monoclonal antibody for the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis. The firms noted that it might also be a potential treatment for asthma and allergic rhinitis.

iCo will pay the UK company an upfront fee, milestone payments for key clinical and regulatory achievements, and royalties on potential future sales, while maintaining sole responsibility for all future clinical development and the commercialisation of CAT-213. Phase I/II studies have been completed on the antibody and it was found to be safe and well-tolerated.

Richard Mason, CAT’s senior vice president for business and commercial operations, said the deal had been done “following an internal review of our development priorities,” while iCo chief executive Andrew Rae said that CAT-213 “represents a novel approach to the treatment of allergic conditions and one that may provide significant advantages over antihistamine and steroidal approaches that are known for their adverse events, particularly when used chronically.”

The CAT deal brought in four antibody drugs in clinical testing to AstraZeneca but the firms would appear to have decided that antibodies such as CAT-3888, in Phase II trials for hairy cell leukaemia, offer more promise. CAT already has the rheumatoid arthritis drug Humira (adalimumab), sold by Abbott Laboratories, on the market.