|Intellect Neurosciences and ViroPharma make deal for drug molecule rights|
|By Staff and Wire Reports|
|Friday, 30 September 2011 10:29|
ViroPharma Inc. (Nasdaq:VPHNM) and micro-cap biotech Intellect Neurosciences (OTCBB:ILNS.PK) said Friday that the two companies had agreed to an exclusive $120 million licensing deal related to Intellect's clinical stage drug candidate, OX1, a multimodal, metal-binding, extremely potent antioxidant molecule, which has been demonstrated to protect nerve cells from highly oxidizing neurotoxins.
ViroPharma plans to develop and commercialize OX1 as a treatment of Friedreich's Ataxia and possibly other diseases for which OX1 may qualify for orphan drug designation and will pay ILNS an immediate $6.5 million to acquire rights as part of the deal which also includes potential milestone payments that could total $120 million and royalty payments based on sales, if the drug is eventually approved. In addition, ViroPharma will pay a tiered royalty of up to a maximum of low double digits based on annual net sales.
Intellect Neurosciences, whose market cap was only roughly $6 million prior to announcing the deal, has agreed to transfer to ViroPharma all of its intellectual property rights and data to its research-and-development program for the potential drug, labeled OX1. OX1 is being developed to treat Friedreich's Ataxia, a rare disease for which there are no treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The disease is caused by a gene mutation and can lead to nervous system damage that results in symptoms like speech problems. Friedreich's Ataxia also can lead to heart disease and diabetes.
Intellect recently announced completion of Phase 1 clinical trials for OX1. Dr. Daniel Chain, Intellect's Chairman and CEO, has played a leadership role in the development of OX1 since its therapeutic potential was originally discovered by scientists at NYU Medical School and University of South Alabama in the late 1990s. The universities, which own certain patents in relation to OX1, are entitled to a portion of revenues received by Intellect from any sale or license of OX1 pursuant to an exclusive license agreement between Intellect Neurosciences and the universities.
Dr. Chain commented: "We are pleased to enter into a strategic relationship with ViroPharma, which has ample resources, drug development capabilities and orphan drug marketing expertise to accelerate the development and commercialization of OX1. This transaction is the first for Intellect related to an internally developed compound. It is consistent with our business strategy to create high value assets that can generate revenues to support further development of drugs for the ultimate benefit of patients in desperate need of novel treatments for life-threatening conditions."
In addition, Intellect Neurosciences has two preclinical programs it is developing internally. One of these, under the ANTISENILIN platform, is IN-N01, which the Company is developing as a follow-on generation monoclonal antibody drug that it believes will have better safety and efficacy in a broader population than Bapineuzumab or Ponezumab and compared to other similar types of drugs currently in development. The resulting product has multiple potential applications for the treatment of AD, Glaucoma, Age-related Macular Degeneration and Traumatic Brain Injury, all of which have been linked to Aβ. The second program under the RECALL-VAX platform has yielded two AD vaccine drug candidates, RV01 and RV02. RECALL-VAX™ has the potential to delay or prevent the development of Alzheimer’s in those who are at risk by stimulating patients’ immune systems to produce antibodies that clear amyloid betas and prevent further accumulation and deposition. Many view a vaccine of this nature, which is analogous to a flu shot, as the ultimate quest in Alzheimer’s research.
Intellect has several other royalty bearing license agreements with big pharmaceutical entities and Dr. Chain is recognized by many as the father of various late-stage study treatments which currently hold the best hope against Alzheimer’s disease.
Bapineuzumab, in Phase 3 clinical trials, is being co-developed by Pfizer, Wyeth, Elan and Johnson & Johnson, and Ponezumab, in Phase 2 trials, is also being developed by Pfizer. Both drug candidates are based on the use of antibodies that uniquely bind molecular signatures at the ends of beta amyloid formed when the Aβ toxin is generated. This is the fundamental principle of Intellect's ANTISENILIN technology, which is intended to promote the clearance of amyloid protein away from sites of damage in the brain while minimizing the potential for adverse effects that may result from less specific binding.
Shares of ILNS had quietly climbed over 65% during the previous two sessions as speculation regarding this news development had begun to spread. Intellect Neurosciences has 33.54M total shares outstanding following a one-for-fifty (1 for 50) reversestock-split of common stock. During the last year, the company has had successive important developments that were achieved with respect to Intellect's product pipeline, technology platforms and patent portfolio.