CAT expands drugs pipeline with $16m deal for cancer treatments

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The Independent Online

Cambridge Antibody Technology has signalled a new phase of product acquisitions, less than a week after settling the royalty dispute that has preoccupied the company for two years.

The biotech company, one of the UK's largest, is to buy two potential cancer drugs from a Danish company, for $16m (£9m) in shares.

The most advanced product, for a rare leukaemia called HCL, is undergoing safety trials in patients, taking the number of drugs in CAT's pipeline to 10. A second drug, for Hodgkin's lymphoma, is expected to be tried in man for the first time next year.

CAT said yesterday it would take on a 10-scientist team from Genencor, a California-based subsidiary of the Danish firm Danisco, giving it significant product development expertise and a US presence for the first time. All but two of the drugs in CAT's existing pipeline are being developed by other partners, meaning CAT will win only a minority share of any future sales.

Peter Chambré, the chief executive, said: "The acquisition of these product candidates accelerates the development of our proprietary pipeline and signals our intention to focus our proprietary research and development in oncology."

The weakness of CAT's pipeline of new drugs has been a source of City criticism, particularly since its most advanced drug, a treatment for scarring after eye surgery, failed last year.

The company settled a dispute with Abbott Laboratories of the US last week over royalty rates on the arthritis drug Humira.