Biotech Firm XOMA In Major US Agreement

October 27, 2011

Bermuda-domiciled, West Coast-based XOMA, a leader in the discovery and development of therapeutic antibodies, and Aragen Bioscience, Inc., a US provider of high-content preclinical research and development services, have today [Oct. 26] entered into an agreement under which Aragen Bioscience will provide its clients access to XOMA’s proprietary Human Engineering technology for antibody humanization. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Human Engineering technology enables the derivation of humanized variable region amino acid sequences from mature mouse variable region amino acid sequences. “Access to XOMA’s extensive technology and expertise in antibody humanization allows Aragen Bioscience to provide its customers a seamless transition from murine antibody discovery and sequencing to antibody testing, variable domain humanization, stable and transient expression, cell line development and pre-clinical production services. The addition of XOMA’s technology to our services enables our clients to quickly access antibody humanization technology that is recognized throughout the industry as cutting-edge,” commented Aragen Bioscience’s President and CEO, Rick Srigley.

“We believe that pairing our Human Engineering technology and know-how with Aragen Bioscience’s cell line development experience and expertise is an excellent way to make this technology available to the pharmaceutical and biotech industries,” said Patrick J. Scannon, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at XOMA.

The Berkeley, California-based biotech company said earlier this month that it plans to change the jurisdiction of its incorporation from Bermuda to Delaware for greater legal, administration and other efficiencies. The move also will reduce Xoma’s exposure to potentially adverse tax legislation, the company said, and avoid potential blacklisting of its common shares by some pension funds or legislation that restrict their dealings with non-US companies.

Its the latest big change for Xoma, which in August saw chairman, CEO and President Steven Engle quit and earlier this month scored a potential $28 million contract with the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop a botulism treatment.

Xoma moved its legal domicile from Delaware to Bermuda in the late 1990s, supposedly because of lower tax rates — the Bermuda had precluded the Finance Ministry from imposing taxes at least through 2016 — and to help the company land collaborations with multinational drug companies.

At the time, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company also said its shares may become more attractive to non-US investors.

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