Swiss biotech Covagen lands €112M antibody deal with Mitsubishi

Covagen has found a pharma partner for its novel antibody drug platform. The Zurich-Schlieren, Switzerland-based biotech has reached a deal with Japan's Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma and the drugmaker's San Diego subsidiary that focuses on advancing bispecific protein drugs from Covagen against two pairs of targets. The deal comes as multiple pharma outfits snap up rights to biologics with the ability to home in on multiple targets to treat diseases.

Covagen, which previously raised money from Mitsubishi's venture capital unit, expects to collect €4 million ($5.25 million) on the front end of the deal for the first pair of targets and up to €108.25 million ($142 million) in potential milestones. Mitsubishi has an option on the bispecific drugs against the second pair of targets, with similar financial rewards in store for Covagen as the first program, according to the biotech's press release. The company kept secret the types of diseases the collaborators will target with the startup's bispecific antibodies, which are called "FynomAbs." Covagen focuses on research of the protein therapies for inflammatory diseases and cancer.  

"This collaboration with Covagen will allow [Tanabe Research Laboratories] and Mitsubishi Tanabe to bring a new generation of biologics with novel mechanisms to physicians and their patients," Roland Newman, chief scientific officer of Tanabe Research Laboratories, in a statement. "We anticipate an exciting and fruitful relationship with Covagen utilizing their bispecific FynomAb technology and their extensive expertise in this area."

The pharma deal follows venture funding that Covagen brought in from MP Healthcare Venture Management, Mitsubishi's Boston-based VC unit. As of the close of its CHF 6.3 million Series A round announced in November 2010, Covagen's backers also included Seroba Kernel Life Sciences, Edmond de Rothschild Investment Partners, Novartis Venture Fund and Ventech.

- here's the release

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