Amgen Inc., the Thousand Oaks biotechnology concern, recently announced formation of a joint venture with the pharmaceutical division of Japan's Kirin Brewery Co. to market an experimental protein hormone that stimulates blood clotting.
The partners said their licensing agreement with the drug's developer, Copenhagen-based Novo Nordish A/S, gives them the rights to a product that could complement another drug they are co-developing.
The latter, called Megakaryocyte Growth and Development Factor, or MGDF, is aimed at helping cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, which suppresses blood cell formation in bone marrow.
Both MGDF and Novo's drug, called thrombopoietin, stimulate the production of particles known as platelets that help blood clotting.
Novo said that teaming up with Amgen and Kirin is the best way to quickly develop its own compound.
Under the licensing agreement, Amgen and Kirin will pay Novo an initial payment and royalties from future sales. The amounts to be paid were not disclosed.
Another biotechnology leader, Genentech Inc., based in South San Francisco, also is developing a platelet product.
Amgen markets two other blood-growth products, Epogen and Neupogen. Epogen is used to stimulate the growth of red blood cells, and Neupogen is designed to stimulate the production of white cells.