The agent, which is a fully human antibody that targets the CD38 glycoprotein found on the cell surface of white blood cells, demonstrated superior efficacy to Johnson & Johnson’s Velcade (bortezomib) in animal models of this form of cancer.
Under the terms of the agreement DSM will produce MOR202, which is part of MorphoSys’ proprietary development human combinatorial antibody library (HuCAL), at its good manufacturing practice (GMP) accredited in Groningen in the Netherlands.
Previously, the two firms have employed DSM’s PER.C6 technology platform, which is joint owned by Dutch company Crucell, to develop a series of therapeutic antibody candidates, most notably the anti-inflammatory candidate MOR103.
Commenting on the new deal, Marlies Sproll, MorphoSys’ chief scientific officer, said: "Based on the positive experiences we have gained with the PER.C6 cell line and DSM's manufacturing capabilities within our MOR103 lead program, we have chosen to continue to use this platform for MOR202."
These thoughts were echoed by DSM’s vice president of sales and marketing Marcel Lubben, who said: "We are very pleased that MorphoSys is extending its business partnership with DSM Biologics as their preferred manufacturing partner after our highly successful collaboration on the MOR103 program.
"It is exciting how well the combination of our two strong platforms works for fully human antibodies."
PER.C6 chosen as cell line
DSM will be using the PER.C6 cell line that was developed for the large-scale manufacture of biopharmaceutical products such as recombinant proteins, including monoclonal antibodies
This technology is said to offer an "excellent safety profile, scalability and high productivity levels under serum-free culture conditions" that make it superior to conventional technologies.
Using this technique a yield of 27g of IgG antibody per litre has been obtained. In addition it is the only human cell line-based technology and boasts global network of experts to provide technical support for licensees, according to DSM and Crucell.
The companies appear to be in a strong position to claim a slice of the biomanufacturing market, which a Business Insights predicted would grow by 5 per cent a year until 2011 from a base of $2.5bn in 2006.
This corner of the industry holds much promise. A recent Business Insights report predicted that the contract biomanufacturing market, which was worth about $2.5bn in 2006, will expand by around 5 per cent a year through to 2011.