Roche has linked up with Galaxy Biotech to gain the rights to the latter's antibodies targeting fibroblast growth factor 2 for the treatment of cancer.

Under the terms of the agreement, Galaxy will receive an $8 million licence fee, and milestone payments contingent on various preclinical, clinical and regulatory development, as well as royalties. No other financial details have been disclosed.

Galaxy has developed a novel antibody that neutralises the biological activity of FGF2, which is overexpressed in many types of cancer. The closely-held firm, based in Sunnyvale, California, says that "published scientific work has shown that the antibody effectively inhibits the growth of certain tumours in animal models".

Mike Burgess, acting head of Roche pharma research and early development, said the drug "has demonstrated considerable promise in preclinical studies, and we look forward to developing this and possibly other derivative compounds".

The Roche deal means that Galaxy has licensed three of its antibody programmes to biopharmaceutical companies, although the rights to antibodies targeting hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) were recently returned by Takeda. The company is currently seeking a new partner for that programme.