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Eisai leaps into biologics with Morphotek acquisition
April 2007
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TOKYO—In an effort to expand it capabilities for discovery and development, Eisai Co. announced on March 22 that it, along with Eisai Corp. of North America in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., and Morphotek Inc. of Exton, Pa., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Morphotek for $325 million after excess net cash.
 
Eisai currently has an extensive global oncology research program for discovering small-molecule anti-cancer agents, but this acquisition will expand its capabilities into the biologic therapeutics field. According to Eisai, with this unique and strategic antibody technology acquisition, the company will be able to meet a variety of medical needs of cancer patients, through the development of therapeutic antibodies, small-molecule anti-cancer drugs, and potential combinations of both.
 
Morphotek develops therapeutic monoclonal antibodies through the use of proprietary human antibody technologies, including Human MORPHODOMA and Libradoma. The company is leveraging these technologies to enrich a pipeline that already includes therapeutic antibody leads for the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and infectious disease. Two of its programs are currently in early-stage clinical trials for the treatment of ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer, respectively, with several others in preclinical development. 
 
"Morphotek's rich pipeline, unique and proprietary antibody generation technology platform, and highly skilled management and scientific team will become the core of our R&D efforts in biologics," says Eisai President and CEO Haruo Naito.
 
For Morphotek's part, "Eisai's substantial intellectual and managerial resources will enable us to accelerate the development of our current therapeutic antibody pipeline as well as develop a number of additional clinical compounds to targets accessed from our broad network of research collaborations and to those discovered by Eisai researchers globally," says Morphotek CEO Nicholas Nicolaides.
 
Upon completion of the transaction, Morphotek will become part of Eisai's growing global discovery and development research network, which is comprised of research laboratories in Japan, Europe and the United States. The addition of Morphotek further extends Eisai's U.S. research presence, which includes the Eisai Research Institute of Boston, Inc., a discovery operation based in Andover, Mass.; Eisai Medical Research Inc., for clinical development, located in Ridgefield Park, N.J.; and an Eisai laboratory for formulation research in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
 
"Morphotek will enjoy its autonomy in Eisai's discovery network but I will encourage close collaboration among all Eisai R&D member companies," Naito says.

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