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Leveraging Antibodies

Executive Summary

Human antibodies are hot. Three leading companies with patented means for making them are battling for partners and strategic position, anxious to sign alliances before current competitors muscle in, or next-generation technologies come along. Abgenix and Medarex effectively share a duopoly on transgenic mice that make human antibodies. Both firms license their technologies on an antigen-by-antigen basis, but are moving to build more value by deploying the methods on their own behalf, and via 50/50 deals with companies willing to share targets and development costs. Cambridge Antibody Technology is the leading promoter of phage-display technology, a bacterially-based, relatively high throughput method of making human antibody fragments that can be used as reagents to validate targets, or built up into drugs. Owning products is the end-game for all three players. But their approaches to the goal differ, particularly in the way they're structuring deals and the number of products they intend to put into clinical development.
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