Public Release: 

Dana-Farber and Sanford-Burnham Institute license flu-targeting antibodies to Genentech and Roche

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

BOSTON AND LA JOLLA, CA-- Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have signed a license agreement with Genentech, a wholly owned member of the Roche group, and Roche, that grants the companies exclusive rights to manufacture, develop and market human monoclonal antibodies to treat and protect against group 1 influenza viruses. These viruses include the strains for the current seasonal and H1N1 influenzas. Genentech and Roche also have a non-exclusive right to manufacture, develop and market diagnostic tests for group 1 influenza.

The discovery of the antibodies was first reported by Wayne A. Marasco, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at Dana-Farber and Harvard Medical School; Robert Liddington, PhD, professor and director, Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center at Sanford-Burnham; and Ruben Donis, PhD, chief of the Molecular Virology and Vaccines Branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology in February 2009.

They demonstrated that the newly identified antibodies attach to the stem region of the viral proteins (hemagglutinin), rather than to the head region, the standard target of current influenza vaccines. Binding to the highly conserved stem region prevents changes in the protein that are necessary for viral entry into the host cell, thereby inhibiting further infection of host cells and the rise of escape mutants. Standard influenza vaccines that consist of an attenuated, or killed, virus typically stimulate antibodies against the protein's head. These vaccines are less effective as the head region is prone to change, leading to the rise of forms of the virus that can evade neutralizing antibodies.

Complete terms of the agreement are not public, but Dana-Farber and Sanford-Burnham will receive license fees and may receive milestone payments and royalties.

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About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. It is the top ranked cancer center in New England, according to U.S. News & World Report, and one of the largest recipients among independent hospitals of National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health grant funding.

About Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute is dedicated to discovering the fundamental molecular causes of disease and devising the innovative therapies of tomorrow. Sanford-Burnham, with operations in California and Florida, is one of the fastest-growing research institutes in the country. The institute ranks among the top four institutions nationally for NIH grant funding and among the top organizations worldwide for its research impact. For the past decade (1999-2009), Sanford-Burnham ranked first worldwide in the fields of biology and biochemistry for the impact of its research publications (defined by citations per publication), according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

Sanford-Burnham utilizes a unique, collaborative approach to medical research and has established major research programs in cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and infectious, inflammatory, and childhood diseases. The Institute is especially known for its world-class capabilities in stem cell research and drug discovery technologies. Sanford-Burnham is a nonprofit public benefit corporation. For more information, please visit www.burnham.org.

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