14 January 2009 - Ark Therapeutics Group plc ('Ark' or 'the Company') today announces that it has granted an exclusive sublicence to the Finnish company, Oy Lx Therapies Ltd (‘Lx Therapies’), for the use of VEGF-C and VEGF-D genes in lymphatic disease. Ark has also granted Lx Therapies a licence to use its proprietary adenoviral vector gene-medicine manufacturing processes and know-how in gene therapy to deliver the genes. In return, Ark has received an equity holding of 5% in Lx Therapies and will also receive a single digit royalty on the net sales of any marketed product.
Lx Therapies, founded in 2008, is a drug discovery company focused on developing gene-mediated therapies for the prevention and treatment of diseases of lymphatic vasculature. The initial focus of the company is on breast cancer-related lymphoedema, a relatively common complication of breast cancer treatment for which there is currently no cure or effective treatment. Lx Therapies, based in Helsinki, has received a EUR 2 million investment from Inveni Capital, the Finnish-German life sciences venture fund and a founder of Lx Therapies.
Under the terms of the licence, Ark will supply Lx Therapies with batches of adenovirus VEGF-C and adenovirus VEGF-D for research purposes. Subject to capacity, Ark has agreed to supply Lx Therapies with clinical batches at a commercial rate in due course.
The intellectual property to the genes being sublicensed to Lx Therapies was originally acquired by Ark through the purchase of Lymphatix Oy, in January 2008. That acquisition gave Ark exploitation rights to the vascular endothelial growth factor genes known as VEGF-C and VEGF-D for developing gene-based medicines in the angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis areas. Ark already had VEGF-based programmes in pre-clinical development in these areas, notably refractory angina, wound healing, prevention of restenosis and foetal growth restriction. Results to date have shown that VEGF plays a key role in these diseases.
Dr Nigel Parker, Chief Executive Officer of Ark, commented: “This licence will allow Ark to take advantage of Lx Therapies’ expertise in lymphatic disease and to use their focus in this area to optimise development. Lymphoedema is an extremely common disorder following cancer-related removal of the lymph gland and is an area of high clinical need. We look forward to working closely together with Lx Therapies and to moving this next area of gene-based medicines towards the clinic.”
Professor Markku Jalkanen, Chairman of Lx Therapies and Partner of Inveni Capital, added: “This is an important agreement for us as it gives us access not only to the most suitable growth factors for the purpose but also to the expertise and resources of Ark in the field of gene-mediated therapies. Having a leading gene therapy company as a partner is a great benefit to us in developing Lx Therapies into a leading biotech company in the field of diseases of lymphatic vasculature.”
About Ark Therapeutics Group plc
Ark Therapeutics Group plc is a specialist healthcare group (the "Group") addressing high value areas of unmet medical need within vascular disease, wound care and cancer. These are large and growing markets, where opportunities exist for effective new products to generate significant revenues. With four marketed devices, Kerraboot®, Kerraped®, Flaminal® and Neuropad®, and three further lead pharmaceutical products in late stage clinical development: Cerepro®, Vitor™, and Trinam®, the Group is transitioning from an R&D company to a commercial, revenue generating business.
Ark's own products are sourced from related but largely non-dependent technologies within the Group and have been selected to enable them to be taken through development within the Group's own means and to benefit from Orphan Drug Status and/or Fast Track Designation, as appropriate. This strategy has allowed the Group to retain greater value and greater control of clinical development timelines, and to mitigate the risks of dependency on any one particular programme or development partner. Ark has secured patents or has patent applications pending for all its lead products in principal pharmaceutical markets.
Ark has its origins in businesses established in the mid-1990s by Professor John Martin and Mr Stephen Barker of University College London and Professor Seppo Yla-Herttuala of the AI Virtanen Institute at the University of Kuopio, Finland, all of whom play leading roles in the Company's research and development programmes.
Ark's shares were first listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2004 (AKT.L).
About Inveni Capital
Inveni Capital, established in 2007 and with offices in Finland and Germany, is a venture capital management company with some € 30 million under management investing in early to growth–stage life science (pharma and medtech) companies in Northern and Central Europe. Inveni Capital, with its experienced team, is a highly engaged investor in its portfolio companies.
About Lymphatix Oy
Lymphatix Oy was founded in 2003 by the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Licentia Ltd/Helsinki University and a number of Finnish and Australian academics, including Associate Professor Marc Achen, Professor Kari Alitalo, Dr Marika Karkkainen, Associate Professor Steven Stacker and Professor Seppo Ylä-Herttuala.
Lx Therapies, founded in 2008, is a drug discovery company focused on developing gene-mediated therapies for the prevention and treatment of diseases of lymphatic vasculature. The initial focus of the company is on breast cancer-related lymphoedema, a relatively common complication of breast cancer treatment for which there is no cure or effective treatment today.