Swiss biotechnology company Serono has gained access to a new lymphoma drug, HuMax-CD4 (zanolimumab), after signing a deal with Denmark’s Genmab A/S. The two firms this morning revealed that Genmab has granted Serono exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialise its fully-human monoclonal antibody HuMax-CD4, which is currently in development for treating cutaneous and non-cutaneous T-cell lymphomas.

The compound is in late-stage development for CTCL, in Phase II trials for non-CTCL, and is already under the auspices of the US Food and Drug Administration’s fast-track programme.

Under the terms of the agreement, Genmab will receive a license fee of $20 million, while Serono will invest a further $50 million in its stock. On top of this, Genmab stands to receive almost $150 million in milestone payments for regulatory submissions and approvals across the USA, Europe and Japan, as well as royalties on global sales.

"We are committed to building a strong oncology pipeline through partnerships with leading companies such as Genmab, and through our own internal research," said Ernesto Bertarelli, Chief Executive Officer of Serono. “HuMax-CD4 is an important addition to Serono's oncology portfolio, which now consists of four different clinical-stage products being investigated across a broad range of indications.”

Investors have been looking for a new profit catalyst for Serono, which is heavily reliant on its multiple sclerosis drug Rebif (interferon beta-1a), particularly in light of a $725 million charge slapped on the firm earlier this year relating to a US investigation into its growth hormone therapy Serostim (somatropin) [[22/04/05b]]. Shares in the company rose across European markets this morning, but only marginally.