Bristol University spinout, Apitope, announces licensing agreement
Press release issued: 13 January 2009
Apitope, a Bristol University spinout company that is looking at a potential therapy for people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), has announced today [13 January] a licensing agreement for up to €154 million in upfront, development and commercialisation milestone payments, in addition to royalties, to develop its peptide therapeutic for the treatment of MS.
Apitope founded by Professor David Wraith in the University’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, has granted exclusive worldwide rights to Merck Serono to develop and commercialise Apitope’s peptide therapeutic product, ATX-MS-1467. Apitope is eligible to receive up to €154 million in upfront, development and commercialisation milestone payments, in addition to royalties on the net sales of products resulting from the collaboration.
Dr Neil Bradshaw, Director of Enterprise at the University, said: “The agreement marks a significant step forward for Apitope and is a milestone for enterprise at the University, especially in terms of our involvement in helping to accelerate the technology’s development from the laboratory into the market place.
“It is also further evidence of the significant economic impact of research conducted here at Bristol.”
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. The company will also provide committed funding to Apitope for research on other novel therapeutic peptides for the treatment of MS.
This peptide therapeutic has completed an initial clinical study in patients with MS. It is designed to induce immunological tolerance of the body’s T-cells to key autoantigens involved in the pathogenesis of MS.
Dr Keith Martin, CEO of Apitope, said: “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 MS.
“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.”
Professor Wraith said: “This collaboration with Merck Serono greatly upholds the approach that we have developed for treatment of devastating autoimmune conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis. We look forward to working with one of the leaders in the field of MS therapy.”
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 per cent of MS patients who have a specific genetic profile.
Apitope operates from the SETsquared Business Acceleration Centre at the University of Bristol where they have benefited from the extensive support activities of Nick Sturge and his team. Nick Sturge, Centre Director, said: “This is an exciting boost for Bristol as it demonstrates the world-leading biotech research and development that is being carried out here. Combined with Apitope’s recent €10 million investment, this deal confirms the positive impact that we can have in helping businesses to grow.”