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Aphton Corporation (APHT) And VaxGen, Inc.'s (VXGN) Joint Venture Celltrion, Inc. Announce Commercialization And Manufacturing Agreements For IGN311 With Igeneon


10/19/2005 5:12:08 PM

VIENNA, Austria and INCHEON, South Korea, July 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Igeneon AG and Celltrion, Inc. announced today that Igeneon signed a licensing and commercialization agreement and a product development and manufacturing agreement related to the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of Igeneon's clinical product candidate IGN311. Igeneon is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aphton Corporation , Philadelphia, PA, USA. IGN311 is a humanized monoclonal antibody targeting the Lewis Y antigen that is being developed as a potential new therapy for the treatment of certain epithelial tumors. Lewis Y is a tumor-related antigen expressed in up to 90% of all epithelial cancers, which includes breast, colon, gastric and pancreatic cancers.

Under the agreements, Igeneon granted Celltrion a license to commercialize IGN311 in certain Asian countries, including Japan. In return, Igeneon will receive from Celltrion milestone payments totaling $6 million. In addition, Celltrion will provide development and manufacturing services related to the optimization and upscaling of IGN311 and will produce material for further clinical development. As part of the market authorization process, Celltrion will manage clinical development activities in Asia. Upon market approval of IGN311, Igeneon will also be entitled to receive royalties from sales of IGN311 in Asia, and Celltrion will have the option to manufacture for global market supply. The transaction is expected to close on October 1, 2005.

"We are very excited about this new relationship with Celltrion and believe that these agreements contribute to Aphton in a number of important ways. We expect that these agreements with Celltrion will strengthen the Company's balance sheet, allow us to further the development of IGN311, and, most importantly, validate the interest in IGN 311 and its target the Lewis Y antigen. We estimate that the manufacturing scale-up and clinical material production services being provided by Celltrion represent a savings of approximately $10 million to Aphton," commented Patrick Mooney, MD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Aphton. "We are pleased to have Celltrion as a partner, a company which has an excellent reputation in the global life sciences industry, as noted by its recent agreement with Bristol Myers Squibb, and outstanding expertise in the large-scale manufacturing of antibodies and other biopharmaceutical products."

"The partnership with Aphton/Igeneon is an important milestone in the development of Celltrion as a global biopharmaceutical company" said Jung-Jin Seo, CEO of Celltrion. "Our strategy focuses on making investments in promising new drugs as well as expanding our biomanufacturing capacity to ultimately accommodate the production of such drugs."

About IGN311

IGN311 is a humanized monoclonal antibody against the Lewis Y carbohydrate antigen, a blood group related oligosaccharide. Lewis Y is over-expressed in up to 90% of all epithelial cancers and its expression on adult normal tissues is very restricted; hence IGN311 has the potential to target a broad range of carcinomas. IGN311 is designed to exert clinical effects by destruction of tumor cells by activation of effector functions and by selective growth inhibition via functional receptors.

About Igeneon

Igeneon AG, Vienna, Austria, is biopharmaceutical company focusing on the development of cancer immunotherapy products. The company was founded in 1999 and since March 2005 Igeneon is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aphton Corporation. Aphton, headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing targeted immunotherapies for cancer. Aphton's products seek to empower the body's own immune system to fight disease. Through the acquisition of Igeneon AG , Aphton acquired late-stage products, IGN101, a cancer vaccine designed to induce an immune response against EpCAM-positive tumor cells, as well as IGN311. For more information about Aphton or its programs please visit Aphton's website at www.aphton.com. For more information about Igeneon please visit Igeneon's website at www.igeneon.com.

About Celltrion

Established in 2002, Celltrion is one of the largest biopharmaceutical contract manufacturers of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins in the world. Celltrion recently completed construction of a 50,000 liter mammalian cell culture facility and initiated an expansion to build an additional 50,000 liters by 2010. Celltrion is headquartered in South Korea in a government-designated Free Economic Zone. This designation has enabled Celltrion to obtain ongoing support from South Korean governmental agencies. The company currently employs 150 people worldwide with a mission to be a leading custom manufacturer of biologics. For more information, please visit Celltrion's website at http://www.celltrion.com .

Contact: Jae Chung, Senior Director Business development of Celltrion, Inc., +82-10-6330-7519 (July 25 to July 29), or +1-415-290-9826 (After July 30), or fax, +1-650-624-2399, or Jae.chung@celltrion.com; or Frank Butschbacher of Igeneon AG, +44-1-90250-133, or frank.butschbacher@igeneon.com.

Celltrion, Inc.

CONTACT: Jae Chung, Senior Director Business development of Celltrion,Inc., +82-10-6330-7519 (July 25 to July 29), or +1-415-290-9826 (After July30), or fax, +1-650-624-2399, or Jae.chung@celltrion.com; or FrankButschbacher of Igeneon AG, +44-1-90250-133, orfrank.butschbacher@igeneon.com



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