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Biocon freezes development of oncology molecule

The company had reached pre-clinical trials in developing monoclonal antibody fusion proteins for oncology indications

Raghuvir Badrinath  |  Bangalore 

Biocon, India’s largest publicly-held biotechnology major, has put on hold its effort to develop a novel molecule to manage a type of oncology and which was aimed at developing therapies that target multiple tumor types.

The company had been working on this molecule since 2008 and had reached the pre-clinical trials in developing monoclonal antibody fusion proteins for oncology indications and was one of the five key novel molecules which Biocon is betting on.

A spokesperson for Biocon confirming this said that its fusion proteins novel program for oncology, is a part of a joint program with Iatrica, a small US based startup, engaged in development of immune conjugates.

“During FY 13, there have been certain developments in connection with this investment arising due to patent filings, which are contrary to contractual obligations. Pursuant to this, the company has put on hold this program. However, we remain positive about the potential of this program and are hopeful of resuming work on this programme, going forward.”

The company declined to spell out when the same will be started.

Biocon during early 2008 had formed a strategic partnership including an investment in Iatrica to develop a new class of immunoconjugates for targeted immunotherapy of cancers and infectious diseases. The were supposed to co-develop candidate products based upon Iatrica’s technology platform and Biocon’s expertise in drug development, biologics manufacturing, and clinical research. Biocon has since provisioned for dimunition of its investment in Iatrica.

With this programme on hold, Biocon is aggressively progressing on its four other molecule programs addressing diabetes, oncology and psoriasis.

“Our R&D programmes are progressing well and the latest success is our second novel biologic Alzumab, which will soon be launched in the Indian market and is a very valuable licensable asset to address psoriasis,” said Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD, Biocon. Biocon with this new drug aims to address a large, unmet need of around 5-6 million people in India.

In addition to this, Biocon also has partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) to further develop and commercialise a game changing oral insulin drug.

During last year, Biocon spent a total of Rs 200 crore on R&D and going forward, it is expected to go up marginally.

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First Published: Wed, August 07 2013. 20:39 IST