LYON, France, and ROCHESTER, N.Y., Oct. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- OPi SA, Pharmaceuticals for Rare Diseases, and Vaccinex, Inc., a leading antibody discovery and development company, announced today that they have entered into a licensing agreement whereby OPi was granted exclusive worldwide rights to OPR-003, a fully human anti-interleukin-6 (IL-6) antibody and to several alternate antibodies. Vaccinex selected the antibody using its ActivMab(R) discovery technology. According to the agreement, Vaccinex will be eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties and will have the opportunity to participate as a co-development partner in certain markets. No other financial details were disclosed.
In 2004, OPi and Vaccinex initiated a research collaboration to discover fully human antibodies derived from elsilimomab, a murine anti-IL6 antibody proprietary to OPi with positive proof-of-concept clinical data in malignant haematological diseases. The collaboration successfully identified a panel of high affinity fully-human anti-IL6 antibodies with functionality comparable to elsilimomab. A US patent application was filed on these compounds and OPi has initiated pre-clinical development.
"We have been very impressed with Vaccinex's technological capabilities and are pleased to add this new and promising compound to our R&D portfolio. The joint research collaboration was very fruitful," stated Dr. Gilles Alberici, President and founder of OPi. "Given its clinical potential and its competitive advantages, advancing these fully human antibodies to the clinic will be one of our key objectives."
Dr. Maurice Zauderer, Vaccinex's President and CEO commented, "We are pleased that our collaboration with OPi has successfully resulted in antibodies with significant therapeutic promise. The OPR-003 project demonstrates the capabilities of Vaccinex's ActivMab(R) technology in discovering novel, fully human antibodies to a broad range of targets."
Inhibiting IL6 has recently become a promising therapeutic path for the treatment of inflammatory disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and of several onco-haematological diseases, such as multiple myeloma and some aggressive B-cell lymphomas. Recent clinical data have highlighted the clinical and commercial potential of anti-IL6 and anti-IL6R antibodies as a new therapeutic class. OPR-003 is the first fully human antibody to be developed within this class.
OPi SA, Pharmaceuticals for Rare Diseases
Founded in 1999, OPi is an integrated biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to develop and market pharmaceuticals aimed at treating patients suffering from rare and severe diseases. OPi's primary focus is onco- haematology, with Kidrolase(R) (Escherichia coli-derived L-asparaginase), and Erwinase(R) (Erwinia chrysanthemi-derived L-asparaginase), and with a R&D portfolio of monoclonal antibodies at various stages of preclinical and clinical development. OPi is also active in other therapeutic areas, with commercialised hospital products targeting rare and severe diseases in neurology, metabolic diseases and clinical toxicology. With 4 drugs approved, OPi markets its products through its wholly-owned subsidiaries (the UK, Germany, Canada), through agents and distributors in 50 other countries. Innovation and medical needs are the mainstays of OPi's approach.
Vaccinex is a privately held biotechnology company engaged in the discovery and development of novel therapeutic antibodies. Utilizing its proprietary ActivMAb(R) technology, Vaccinex can select fully human monoclonal antibodies against targets that would be difficult to address with other technologies. This technology can also be used to fully humanize mouse and other non-human antibodies. Vaccinex is developing a broad pipeline of antibody products and is currently engaged in six antibody development projects, four of which are entering pre-clinical development in 2006. The firm is headquartered in Rochester, NY and currently has 48 employees.