Merck are putting money into this drug:
Novel peptide therapeutic, ATX-MS-1467 Multiple Sclerosis treatment, licensing agreement announced 13 January 2009
Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, announced today the signature of a research, development and commercialization agreement with Apitope Technology (Bristol) Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Apitope International NV. Under this agreement, Apitope has granted exclusive worldwide rights to Merck Serono to develop and commercialize Apitope's product ATX-MS-1467. This peptide therapeutic has completed an initial clinical study in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). It is designed to induce immunological tolerance of the body's T-cells to key autoantigens involved in the pathogenesis of MS.
ATX-MS-1467 is a novel peptide-based therapeutic derived from Apitope's proprietary technology platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Apitope will receive an upfront payment and will initially be responsible for the further development of ATX-MS-1467, for which Merck Serono will fund the costs. Merck Serono will be responsible for all development activities from the beginning of Phase II clinical trials. Merck Serono will also provide committed funding to Apitope for research on other novel therapeutic peptides for the treatment of MS.
Under the terms of the agreement, Apitope is eligible to receive up to EUR 154 million in upfront, development and commercialization milestone payments, in addition to royalties on the net sales of products resulting from the collaboration.
"This partnership with Apitope strengthens our position as a leader in the field of innovative research and development in multiple sclerosis," said Bernhard Kirschbaum, Executive Vice President Research and Development at Merck Serono. "ATX-MS-1467 represents a novel, targeted approach and may have the potential to complement existing MS drugs by offering a novel mode of action. By applying our existing stratified medicine approaches, we will also identify those MS patients who should benefit most from this potential treatment."
"We are very pleased that ATX-MS-1467 has attracted a major pharmaceutical partner such as Merck Serono with extensive experience and leadership in the development of therapies for multiple sclerosis," said Keith Martin, CEO of Apitope. "We view this collaboration as confirmation of Apitope's ability to develop early-stage first-in-class therapies for autoimmune diseases. In addition to continuing to build our in-house diagnostic platform in MS, we look forward to progressing ATX-MS-1467 with Merck Serono."
ATX-MS-1467 consists of four short peptides that are derived from myelin basic protein, a key autoantigen in MS. It is specifically designed to target up to 70% of MS patients who have a specific genetic profile.
Source: Merck Serono (13/01/09)