Squibb supports MR contrast effort

February 27, 1991

Advanced Magnetics of Cambridge, MA, picked up a hefty endorsementfor its magnetic resonance contrast technology this month withthe licensing of development, manufacturing and marketing rightsfor two MRI agents to Squibb Diagnostics, a division of

Advanced Magnetics of Cambridge, MA, picked up a hefty endorsementfor its magnetic resonance contrast technology this month withthe licensing of development, manufacturing and marketing rightsfor two MRI agents to Squibb Diagnostics, a division of Bristol-MyersSquibb. The agents involved are:

  • AMI-HS, a hepatocyte-specific agent for imaging livertumors; and

  • AMI-227, a blood-flow agent with potential applicationsin the imaging of lymph nodes and bone marrow.

Both agents are in preclinical development, according to JeromeGoldstein, Advanced Magnetics president and CEO. Squibb will beresponsible for filing investigational new drug applications forthe agents with the Food and Drug Administration.

Squibb will have marketing rights for both agents in all areasof the world except Europe, Brazil and Japan. Advanced Magneticshas already licensed rights to commercialize all of its MRI agentsto Guerbet in Europe and Brazil and Eiken Chemical in Japan.

The contrast developer is keeping options open for commercializationof agents in its home market. A North American licensing dealwas signed last year with Mallinckrodt for AMI 121, a gastrointestinalagent (SCAN 8/1/90).

Feridex, Advanced Magnetics' first magnetic particle MRI agenttargeted at liver cancer, is not yet licensed in the U.S. Althoughdelays were encountered at the FDA, Feridex is back on track andexpected to enter phase two and three clinical trials next month,Goldstein said.

The Squibb deal also involves rights to use core Advanced Magneticstechnology in manufacturing the agents and developing new receptor-directedagents based on proprietary Bristol-Meyers compounds. This technologyinvolves coating an iron-oxide core with a compound in a way thatdirects it to a specific organ system, Goldstein said.

"Everybody thinks of monoclonal antibodies in terms ofdirectable agents or "magic bullets." But it is stillup in the air whether the FDA is going to approve any of those(monoclonal) products. These receptor-directed agents are magicbullets as well," he said.

Of the two agents signed to Squibb, the blood-flow lymphaticagent has the larger market potential. How much use the agentwill get, however, depends on whether clinical trials show thatit can pick up pathology in lymph nodes that are not enlarged,Goldstein said.

"In that answer lies perhaps a five- to 10-fold differencein market size," he said.