EXTON, Pa., April 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Morphotek®, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Inc., announced today that the company has received a grant of approximately $947,000 from the United States Department of Defense (DOD) to support the continued development of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) capable of neutralizing the toxic effects of botulinum neurotoxins (BOTN). The development project is part of a U.S. defense initiative to protect citizens against toxic threats posed by biowarfare agents. In 2007, Morphotek was awarded $2.3 million in funding to support the initial development of these mAb therapies.
Morphotek has been developing mAbs with neutralizing activities against BOTN. These funds will further support the engineering of a monoclonal antibody-based therapy that can potentially protect against exposure to these toxins.
"The DOD funding will allow us to explore novel antibody formats capable of blocking the toxic effects of certain BOTN subtypes," said Luigi Grasso, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Morphotek. "DOD's funding for this program demonstrates the importance of developing non-animal derived and safe biological therapies to treat potential exposure to different weaponized BOTN subtypes."
The funded program is in response to government efforts to develop therapies capable of protecting civilian and military personnel against exposure to pathogenic agents that can be deployed by rogue states or terrorists as bioweapons. The program also is consistent with Morphotek's and Eisai's human health care (hhc) mission to give first thought to patients and their families and to increasing the benefits that health care provides by satisfying unmet medical needs.
Morphotek®, Inc., a subsidiary of Eisai Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of protein and antibody products through the use of a novel and proprietary gene evolution technology. The technology has been successfully applied to a broad variety of cell lines and organisms to yield genetically diverse offspring that are suitable for pharmaceutical product development in the areas of antibody therapeutics, protein therapeutics, product manufacturing, drug target discovery, and improved output traits for commercial applications. The company is currently focusing its platform on the development and manufacturing of therapeutic antibodies for the treatment of cancer, inflammation and infectious disease. For more information, please visit www.morphotek.com.
About Eisai Inc.
Eisai Inc. was established in 1995 and is ranked among the top-20 U.S. pharmaceutical companies (based on retail sales). The company began marketing its first product in the United States in 1997 and has rapidly grown to become a fully integrated pharmaceutical business. Eisai's areas of commercial focus include neurology, gastrointestinal disorders and oncology/critical care. The company serves as the U.S. pharmaceutical operation of Eisai Co., Ltd., a research-based human health care (hhc) company that discovers, develops and markets products throughout the world.
Eisai has a global product creation organization that includes U.S.-based R&D facilities in Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania as well as manufacturing facilities in Maryland and North Carolina. The company's areas of R&D focus include neuroscience; oncology; vascular, inflammatory and immunological reaction; and antibody-based programs. For more information about Eisai, please visit www.eisai.com/us.
SOURCE Morphotek, Inc.