MorphoSys AG and the University of Melbourne Publish Preclinical Data on the Role of GM-CSF in Inflammatory, Arthritic and Osteoarthritic Pain
Published: Sep 10, 2012
MARTINSRIED, GERMANY and MUNCHEN, GERMANY--(Marketwire - September 10, 2012) - MorphoSys AG / MorphoSys and the University of Melbourne Publish Preclinical Data on the Role of GM-CSF in Inflammatory, Arthritic and Osteoarthritic Pain . Processed and transmitted by Thomson Reuters ONE. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.
MorphoSys AG (FSE: MOR; Prime Standard Segment, TecDAX) and the University of Melbourne today announced the publication of two research papers that underline the broad therapeutic potential of antibodies targeting granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). The papers provide evidence that GM-CSF is a key mediator of inflammatory, arthritic and osteoarthritic pain. GM-CSF is the target molecule of MorphoSys's MOR103 program, a HuCAL antibody, which is currently in development for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple sclerosis (MS). Clinical safety and efficacy data from the phase 1b/2a trial in RA will be published shortly.
The first publication reports an investigation into the involvement of GM-CSF in inflammatory and arthritic pain. The study assessed the development of pain in a widely used model of inflammatory pain as well as in two inflammatory arthritis models, using mice lacking the GM-CSF gene. In these studies, GM-CSF was shown to be absolutely required for pain development in both the inflammatory pain and arthritis models. The findings were further highlighted in a commentary published in Nature Reviews Rheumatology.
A second publication reports on a study that looked at the role of GM-CSF in experimental osteoarthritis and the pain associated with this disease. Therapeutic neutralization of GM-CSF using an antibody alleviated joint pain within three days and led to significantly reduced cartilage damage. The research team at the University of Melbourne was led by Professor John Hamilton and Dr. Andrew Cook.
In conclusion, the research showed that GM-CSF is a key mediator of inflammatory pain, including arthritic pain, and is essential for experimental osteoarthritis and the associated pain.
"Relief from inflammatory pain represents a significant unmet medical need and there is a great demand for better therapies in this area," commented Dr. Arndt Schottelius, Chief Development Officer of MorphoSys AG. "The pre-clinical work we performed with the University of Melbourne in indications such as osteoarthritis points to the potential of our MOR103 program beyond rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, where it is currently in clinical development. The published data demonstrate that MOR103 has the potential to become an important drug in a number of inflammatory indications."
"The relationship between pain, inflammation and tissue damage, for example in arthritis, is complex and not well understood," commented Professor Hamilton who is a Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. "Increasing evidence supports the hypothesis that cytokines such as GM-CSF are not only inflammatory mediators but can also be regarded as factors associated with pain perception. GM-CSF therefore represents a valuable potential target for inflammatory and arthritic pain management and treatment."
About MOR103 and GM-CSF
MOR103 is a HuCAL antibody against human GM-CSF, currently in development for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Clinical safety and efficacy data from the concluded phase 1b/2a trial in RA will be published in the second half of September 2012.
In 2007, MorphoSys signed an agreement with the University of Melbourne, providing the company with an exclusive license to a patent family covering therapeutic uses of inhibitors of GM-CSF. The claims of the key patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,455,836) are directed to methods of ameliorating the effects of inflammation by administering to a patient an antibody directed against GM-CSF. In 2009, the existing relationship was expanded with an agreement to cooperate on investigating new therapeutic applications for MorphoSys's MOR103 program. As part of the expanded relationship, new patent applications have been filed, which are intended to broaden the scope of the anti-GM-CSF approach.
 Cook AD, Pobjoy J, Sarros S, Steidl S, Dürr M, Lacey DC, Hamilton JA. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor is a key mediator in inflammatory and arthritic pain. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases (2012) Jul 24 [Epub ahead of print]
 Onuora S. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor required for inflammatory and arthritic pain. Nature Reviews Rheumatology (2012) [accepted manuscript]
 Cook AD, Pobjoy J, Steidl S, Dürr M, Braine AM, Turner AL, Lacey DC, Hamilton JA. Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor is a key mediator in experimental osteoarthritis pain and disease development Arthritis Research & Therapy (2012) Aug 14 [Epub ahead of print]
About the University of Melbourne / Melbourne Ventures:
Melbourne Ventures Pty Ltd is the technology commercialisation company of the University of Melbourne, one of the top 40 Universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2008). The University of Melbourne is renowned as Australia's leading biomedical enterprise, training more health professionals and attracting more nationally competitive grants for biomedical research than any other Australian university. A wholly owned subsidiary of the University, Melbourne Ventures provides commercialisation and IP management expertise across the full breadth of faculties and departments, and is responsible for negotiating licences and investments for the transfer and commercialisation of University developed technologies. For further information please visit our website at www.melbourneventures.com.
MorphoSys developed HuCAL, the most successful antibody library technology in the pharmaceutical industry. By successfully applying this and other patented technologies, MorphoSys has become a leader in the field of therapeutic antibodies, one of the fastest-growing drug classes in human healthcare. The company's AbD Serotec unit uses HuCAL and other antibody technologies to generate superior monoclonal antibodies for research and diagnostic applications.
Together with its pharmaceutical partners, MorphoSys has built a therapeutic pipeline of more than 70 human antibody drug candidates for the treatment of cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease, to name just a few. With its ongoing commitment to new antibody technology and drug development, MorphoSys is focused on making the healthcare products of tomorrow. MorphoSys is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol MOR. For regular updates about MorphoSys, visit http://www.morphosys.com
HuCAL®, HuCAL GOLD®, HuCAL PLATINUM®, CysDisplay®, RapMAT®, arYla® and Ylanthia® and 100 billion high potentials® are registered trademarks of MorphoSys AG.
Slonomics® is a registered trademark of Sloning BioTechnology GmbH, a subsidiary of MorphoSys AG.
This communication contains certain forward-looking statements concerning the MorphoSys group of companies. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent the judgment of MorphoSys as of the date of this release and involve risks and uncertainties. Should actual conditions differ from the Company's assumptions, actual results and actions may differ from those anticipated. MorphoSys does not intend to update any of these forward-looking statements as far as the wording of the relevant press release is concerned.
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