SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA and HONG KONG--(Marketwire - October 31, 2011) - Alios BioPharma, Inc. and Versitech Limited announced today an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement for technology targeting influenza viruses that will be used to advance the research, development, manufacture and commercialization of novel medicines to treat influenza infection. Additionally, the companies signed two other influenza-related, non-exclusive license agreements and a sponsored research agreement.
Versitech Ltd. is the technology transfer company of the University of Hong Kong. Under the research agreement, Alios will sponsor collaborative research at the University of Hong Kong in the laboratories of Dr. Richard Kao, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and a recognized leader in the field of influenza virus chemical genetics.
"Influenza virus infection is responsible for a significant amount of morbidity and mortality and contributes to the rising cost of healthcare worldwide," said Lawrence M. Blatt, Ph.D., Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alios BioPharma. "We are delighted to begin working with Versitech Ltd., the University of Hong Kong and Dr. Kao, as we believe that the compounds and technology derived from this collaboration will provide novel therapeutic options to improve the care of influenza virus-infected patients. Dr. Kao has identified novel chemical matter that targets a unique component of the influenza virus life cycle and we are diligently working with him to advance the lead molecules into clinical development."
"Versitech is very pleased to join forces with Alios. Through access to Alios's drug development expertise, and its successful partnering track record, we have the opportunity to enhance the treatment of influenza and strengthen our defenses against pandemic threats," said Mr. Hailson Yu, Deputy Managing Director at Versitech Ltd. "With emerging resistance to the antiviral agents that are currently used to treat influenza infections, new antiviral agents that act on other targets are clearly needed."
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae (the influenza viruses) that affects birds and mammals. The most common symptoms of the disease are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort. Although it is often confused with other illnesses caused by respiratory viruses, especially the common cold, influenza is a more severe disease than the common cold and is caused by a different type of virus.
Influenza represents serious public health and economic problem, as it spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics, resulting in the deaths of between 250,000 and 500,000 people every year, or up to millions in some pandemic years. Between 1979 and 2001, on average, 41,400 people died from influenza each year in the United States. In 2010 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed the way it reports the 30-year estimates for deaths. The estimates for influenza are now reported as a range from a low of about 3,300 deaths to a high of 49,000 per year. The World Health Organization has estimated that the annual economic impact of influenza in the U.S. alone ranges from 71 to 167 billion dollars.
About Alios BioPharma
Alios BioPharma is a biotechnology company located in South San Francisco, California, that is developing novel medicines aimed at the treatment of viral diseases. Alios has an innovative team of highly experienced scientists and clinical researchers who are developing direct acting antiviral agents against several human viral pathogens of public health importance including hepatotropic and respiratory viruses, and other chronic, acute and emerging viral diseases. The overall goal for the Alios therapeutic platform is to maximize patient benefits in areas of high unmet medical need through optimization of potency, safety and tolerability. Alios has a significant research and development collaboration with Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., aimed at advancing novel nucleoside therapeutics for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. Alios is the recipient of the 2011 BayBio Pantheon Outstanding Partnering Award associated with the Alios/Vertex collaboration that was announced in June 2011.
About Versitech Ltd.
Versitech Limited, the technology transfer and commercial arm of the University of Hong Kong, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the University. Versitech consists of top University management and prominent business people to promote research, teaching, and technology transfer for the public benefit.
Versitech offers a full set of services in the following areas to ensure effective technology transfer for the University:
- Training - Organizes short courses and other training services.
- Commercialization - Commercializes the intellectual property of the University through licensing and collaboration with industry.
- Contract Research and Consulting - Performs research and development activities funded by industry and government organizations to add commercial value to the intellectual capital assets of the University