News

Company News: MediGene Sells Full European Rights for Eligard® to Astellas for EUR 25 Million and Ongoing Royalties

MediGene AG (Frankfurt, Prime Standard, MDG, TecDAX) has announced the sale of full European marketing and distribution rights to Eligard® (leuprolide acetate, for the treatment of hormone-dependent prostate cancer) to Astellas Pharma Europe Ltd. (London, “Astellas”), previously MediGene’s European marketing partner for Eligard®. Astellas will make one-off payments totalling EUR 25 million, while MediGene remains entitled to royalties. There will be no further costs to MediGene. The sales price reflects the full NPV of all future Eligard® revenues while allowing MediGene to benefit from continued Eligard® growth. For more information, please see the full press release.


Company News: Micromet’s BiTE Antibodies Overcome Cancer Cell Resistance

In several clinical trials, antibody company Micromet has demonstrated outstanding efficacy and safety of its bispecific BiTE antibodies which come with two binding sites: one for a cancer target and a second one for a T cell. As a result, T cells are recruited and guided directly to the tumor cell, initiating cancer cell death in a serial fashion.

In this week’s PNAS, researchers of the company demonstrate that the BiTE antibodies also can overcome the notorious resistance against conventional monoclonal antibodies arising in many cancer patients.

The researchers converted the anti-EGFR antibodies cetuximab (Erbitux) and panitumumab (Vectibix) into BiTE antibodies by adding the binding site for T cells. In animal models, these BiTE antibodies then showed a remarkably high potency (in the sub-picomolar range) against cancer cells with KRAS and BRAF-mutations which made them resistant to the original monoclonal antibodies.

According to the authors, “the present study shows that conversion of EGFR-specific monoclonal antibodies cetuximab and panitumumab into T cell-engaging BiTE antibodies is technically feasible and that the BiTE technology can overcome resistance of KRAS- and BRAF- mutated CRC lines to the therapeutically used parental antibodies. The simplest explanation for the latter is that T cell-engaging BiTE antibodies do not rely on inhibition of EGFR signaling but use the receptor tyrosine kinase as mere surface anchor for attachment of cytotoxic T cells. This function of BiTE antibodies is not expected to be affected by mutations of downstream components of the EGFR pathway that obviate the cancer cell’s dependence on the EGFR surface receptor for delivery of growth-promoting signaling.”

If this holds up in clinical trials, it is not only good news for patients with resistance to conventional cancer antibodies already on the market, but it will also provide an opportunity for a whole range of new cooperations with pharma companies for product enhancement and life cycle management.

Food for Thought: Finally, a Test for Alzheimer’s?

If the story by a small, Philadelphia-based company called Avid Radiopharmaceuticals communicated earlier this month holds up, there will be a reliable diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease available in a few years.

Such a test not only would change diagnosis but also help develop novel Alzheimer treatments as it would enable clinical researchers to check whether a drug candidate is making a difference in terms of plaque formation or reduction. At present, the only definite diagnosis of Alzheimer is by brain autopsy.

The company presented interim data  of a Phase III study of patients with a life expectancy of less than 6 months, in which the results of  a brain scan using florbetapir, a novel radiolabeled compound that specifically and sensitively binds β-amyloid, were compared to the autopsy results obtained after the patients’ death. The data were presented at the 2010 Annual Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) meeting in Salt Lake City. According to the abstract, the florbetapir PET brain images  are highly correlated with autopsy-confirmed β-amyloid deposition in the brain.

According to the New York Times, the company will present final data of 35 patients during next month’s ICAD, the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Company News: Probiodrug Obtains Patent, Expands Boards, Wins Award

Alzheimer-specialist Probiodrug AG last week not only obtained a new US patent covering the inhibition of the enzyme glutaminyl cyclase (QC) for the treatment of CNS diseases. The company also announced the appointment of Dr Claus Braestrup, former President & CEO of Lundbeck A/S to Chairman of the Supervisory Board and Prof Dr Lennart Mucke, Director of the Gladstone Institute of Neurological Disease in San Francisco, Calif. to its Scientific Advisory Board.  Moreover, the company was awarded the “IQ Innovationspreis Mitteldeutschland” by the Industrial Initiative for Central Germany for its innovative therapeutic strategy to combat Alzheimer’s disease. In May, Probiodrug hosted the PSP 2010 conference with more than 150 scientists to discuss its approach.

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