US biopharmaceutical firm, Corixa, has signed a licensing deal with Genentech granting the latter exclusive worldwide rights to an antibody target, though no information was disclosed as to the therapeutic area in which it may possibly be developed.

Under the terms of the agreement, Corixa will receive $1.6 million dollars upfront and may get an extra $8.3 million in additional royalty and milestone payments. Genentech will be responsible for development and commercialisation costs of Corixa’s antibody target. Corixa chief executive Steven Gillis was upbeat about the agreement, claiming that it “further demonstrates the strength of our broad portfolio of antibody targets.”

The deal comes hot on the heels of another agreement Corixa signed with Gen-Probe, which involves the former licensing the rights to develop molecular diagnostic tests for approximately 50 potential genetic markers for various cancers. This deal will net Corixa a $1.6 million “initial access” fee, and an additional $3.2 million in January 2006 and 2007, as well as up to $2 million in milestone payments.

Both of these deals will bring in much-needed cash for Corixa which recently sold the worldwide rights to its anti-cancer agent, Bexxar (tositumomab) to GlaxoSmithKline [[14/12/04e]], because, as the company said: “Bexxar’s commercial acceptance is coming at a pace that is too slow for Corixa to continue to fund.” Bexxar did not live up to sales forecasts of $20 million for 2004, with revenues just passing the $7 million mark, not enough to cover the expenses of production, marketing and further clinical trials. As a result, the Seattle-based firm was forced to shed 160 jobs out of 380.