GlaxoSmithKline is to license a new antibody drug, called Lymphostat-B (belimumab), from Human Genome Sciences as part of a move into the highly-lucrative field of rheumatoid arthritis.

In April. HGS revealed that LymphoStat-B had demonstrated both safety and efficacy in a Phase II study, significantly reducing both the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Full data will be presented at a medical meeting later on this year, while the results of a separate Phase II trial in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (a chronic rheumatic disease which affects joints, muscles and other parts of the body) are anticipated in the autumn.

GSK’s decision to develop Lymphostat-B forms part of a 1996 agreement with HGS, under which the UK giant was granted a 50/50 co-development and co-promotion option for certain compounds. As a consequence, GSK and HGS will share the cost of both Phase III and IV development and will also take an equal stake in both sales and marketing expenses and profits.

H. Thomas Watkins, chief executive officer, said: “We are confident that GSK’s decision to exercise its option to LymphoStat-B will lead to a productive collaboration between the parties that will greatly facilitate its development and eventual commercialisation.”

LymphoStat-B was developed under a collaboration with Cambridge Antibody Technology [[14/01/04g]].