MorphoSys Plans to Raise Spending on Immunotherapy Treatments

MorphoSys AG will seek to spend part of its almost 190 million euros ($252 million) in cash on expanding in the emerging class of immunotherapeutics, Chief Financial Officer Jens Holstein said.

MorphoSys currently develops drugs based on antibodies, the fastest growing class of drugs. AbbVie Inc.’s arthritis treatment Humira, last year’s best-selling drug globally, is antibody-based. Immunotherapeutics are treatments that help enlist the immune system to fight diseases such as cancer.

“We’re looking at that, and not just since yesterday,” Holstein said in a telephone interview. “This is an interesting class, but it does carry a higher risk.”

The company is selective in its acquisitions and has yet to find a suitable target, he said yesterday. Martinsried, Germany-based MorphoSys may buy rights to early stage drugs or technologies, he said.

Other companies have expanded in the field. Both Roche Holding AG and GlaxoSmithKline Plc recently agreed to work with Oxford, England-based Immunocore Ltd., a company that develops protein-based drugs to treat cancer and viral diseases.

MorphoSys has already ventured outside the field of antibodies by agreeing to work with Groningen, Netherlands-based Lanthio Pharma BV, a company that develops protein-based treatments.

Cash Position

The company will also use the cash to develop its own cancer drugs MOR202 and MOR208, Holstein said. The company said yesterday it had 166 million euros in cash at the end of the second half. Second-quarter revenue rose to 31 million euros from 12.7 million euros a year earlier.

MorphoSys also received 22 million euros from a partnership with Glaxo in July, Holstein said. An alliance between MorphoSys and Celgene Corp. agreed to in June for an experimental cancer drug will boost the company’s cash to about 300 million euros, he said.

Shares in Morphosys gained 1.7 percent to 52.38 euros at 2:10 p.m. in Frankfurt, giving the company a market value of 1.25 billion euros.

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