MorphoSys AG says that Astellas Pharma of Japan is the latest firm to sign a licence agreement to get access to the German firm's HuCAL GOLD antibody library for use in its internal pharmaceutical drug discovery programmes.

In return, MorphoSys will receive an upfront payment and annual user fees during the life span of the five-year agreement. Astellas will use HuCAL GOLD library at its research site in Tsukuba, Japan and has the option to start antibody projects during the life-time of the deal. The Japanese firm will be responsible for preclinical and clinical development of any compounds that may come out of the collaboration, and the Martinsried-based group stands to receive research funding, plus licensing and milestone payments, as well as royalties on end-product sales.

Chief executive Simon Moroney said the deal “adds another representative of Japan's leading pharmaceutical companies” to MorphoSys's roster of partners and increases at the same time our market share among the 20 largest drug makers worldwide." He added that “this new therapeutic partnership with Astellas once again shows the potential for innovative technology such as our HuCAL GOLD antibody library in Japan, a market we set out to explore just some 24 months ago."