GeNeuro, Servier Ink $455M MS Drug Pact
December 2, 2014
By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Editor
French biotech behemoth Servier is investing heavily in neurology and autoimmune biotech GeNeuro SA, announcing Tuesday it will bet $47 million on the company’s multiple sclerosis drug GNbAC1’s Phase IIb clinical trials, and could become a minority shareholder in 2015.
An additional $408 million will become available to cover the costs of Phase III clinical trials and future royalties, development and sales milestones. Under the terms of the deal, GeNeuro will retain full control of the U.S. and Japanese rights to the drug, as well as its applications for its technology in other diseases.
GNbAC1 is a humanized monoclonal antibody that targets MSRV-Env, the envelope protein of MS associated retrovirus. That envelope protein can be silent but often expresses itself as MS lesions from an early stage of the disease, but GNbAC1 has so far been shown to be both pro-inflammatory and an inhibitor of remyelination, the two major drivers of MS pathophysiology.
That methodology makes it unique in MS treatments and is what has larger biopharmaceutical companies interested in maintaining a stake in the company.
“GNbAC1’s original mode of action proposes a true innovation in the field of MS,” said Prof Hans-Peter Hartung, chairman of the Department of Neurology of the University Hospital Düsseldorf and chairman of GeNeuro’s Advisory Board, in a statement.
The option to take an equity stake in GeNeuro as a minority shareholder in the next 12 months is also a deal sweetener, because it could potentially provide long-term payouts for larger companies if the drug can pass its requisite trials for approval.
“This strategic agreement with Servier is a recognition of the innovative nature and huge potential of GeNeuro’s technology,” said François Curtin, CEO of GeNeuro, in a statement. “Combining GeNeuro’s technical expertise with Servier’s scientific, medical and financial resources will create an exciting new alliance to fuel the development of our unique approach, ultimately benefitting MS patients around the world.”