Biotech Pioneers to Jointly Develop Protein for Rheumatology

Genentech, Inc. (NYSE: DNA) and Biogen, Inc. (NASDAQ: BGEN) today announced a collaboration for the research and development of a BR3 (BAFF-R) protein therapeutic currently in Biogen’s pipeline. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The protein is a B-cell activating factor receptor of the TNF family and is a key target for developing drugs to treat disorders associated with abnormal B-lymphocyte activity, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Both parties will be collaborating on development efforts.

“It’s becoming clear that B-cells drive many autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. The BAFF-R system is a key control point for B-cell development. We are pleased to be working with Genentech to turn this biological insight into what we hope will be a powerful new therapy for patients,” said Michael Gilman, Ph.D., Biogen’s Senior Vice President, Research.

“We look forward to working with Biogen on BR3, a target of potentially great importance in the area of autoimmune disease,” said Richard Scheller, Ph.D., Genentech’s Senior Vice President, Research. “Genentech and Biogen are leaders in advancing the understanding and treatment of autoimmune disorders and are entering into this collaboration to promote scientific progress in this area.”

BAFF-R was first identified by Biogen. It stimulates B-lymphocytes to develop into mature B-cells that produce antibodies, the body’s first line of defense against infection. In rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases, higher levels contribute to production of autoantibodies that attack and destroy the body’s own tissue and organs.

Biogen has developed a BR3 protein therapeutic that acts by inhibiting over stimulation of B-cell development to restore system to normal. Preclinical studies conducted at Biogen show it can reverse the effects of autoimmune disease in in-vivo models.

Genentech scientists have helped to expand the understanding of the role that B-cells play in autoimmune disease. Preclinical studies have identified the core region of the BR3 protein that is a key cellular receptor in the B-cell survival pathway. In animal models that develop a condition that mimics human lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, blocking the activation of BR3 significantly reduced disease symptoms. Biogen and Genentech will combine their pioneering efforts in this pathway to rapidly develop a new therapeutic protein.

Safe Harbor
This press release contains forward-looking statements regarding Biogen’s expectations about the therapeutic potential of an early stage product. These statements are based on the Biogen’s current beliefs and expectations. Biogen’s expectations as to the therapeutic potential of BAFF-R are subject to the risks inherent in drug development, including the risk that the effects of the product in humans may not be as expected or may not be consistent with the scientific rationale or that there may be safety issues, unexpected technical or manufacturing hurdles and intellectual property disputes. Drug development involves a high degree of risk. Only a small number of research and development programs result in the commercialization of a product. Success in animal models or early stage clinical trials does not ensure that later stage or larger scale clinical trials will be successful. For more detailed information on the risks and uncertainties associated with these forward looking statements and Biogen’s other activities see the Outlook section in MD&A; of Biogen’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q filed with the SEC. Biogen does not undertake any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements.

About Genentech
Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes biotherapeutics for significant unmet medical needs. Fifteen of the currently approved biotechnology products originated from or are based on Genentech science. Genentech manufactures and commercializes ten biotechnology products directly in the United States. The company has headquarters in South San Francisco, California and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DNA. For press releases and additional information about the company, please visit

About Biogen
Biogen is the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company and a leader in biologics research, development and manufacturing. A pioneer in leading edge research in immunology, neurobiology and oncology, Biogen brings novel therapies to improve patients’ lives around the world through its global marketing capabilities. For press releases and additional information about the company, please visit

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