Belgium’s UCB Pharma this morning said it has entered into a collaboration with US firm ImClone Systems for the former’s anticancer agent, code-named CDP-791 – an antibody targeting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor, which regulates the growth of blood vessels that supply cancer cells with vital nutrients and oxygen for growth.

CDP-791 has already completed Phase I development in patients with late-stage solid tumours, and showed that it was well tolerated and had a good safety profile. No dose-limiting toxicities or signs of immunogenicity were detected, and a Phase II study in non-small cell lung cancer is next on the horizon, with a start date scheduled in the coming weeks.

CDP-791 derives from the Celltech stable, which UCB purchased last year for £1.5 billion pounds [[18/05/04a]]. Under the terms of the deal, UCB and ImClone will share development costs for the cancer drug, as well as worldwide profits on joint indications. ImClone – which shot to dubious fame after clinical trial protocol violations for its cancer drug Erbitux (cetuximab) led to insider trading accusations and jail for its chief executive Sam Waksal and friend, the lifestyle guru Martha Stewart [[22/01/02a]] – will also receive single-digit royalty on net worldwide sales for joint indications. Furthermore, the US company will be granted exclusive rights to CDP-791 in North America, while UCB retains such rights in Europe, Japan and the rest of the world.