Apeiron Biologics AG (Apeiron) today announced the signing of an agreement granting GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) exclusive rights to APN01 (recombinant human Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2, rhACE2), an enzyme biotherapeutic currently in Phase 1 development for the treatment of the Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS).
Under the terms of the agreement, the total milestone payments could reach £ 207 million (approx. EUR 239 million) in the event of launch in multiple indications. Apeiron will receive an up-front payment of £ 11 million (approx. EUR 12.7 million) in cash and equity investment and will receive royalties on net sales.
Commenting on the agreement, the founder of Apeiron, renowned scientist Josef Penninger, stated: "When I returned to Austria after several years of basic research in North America, I had the vision of translating some of my research, including that for ACE2, into clinically useful and commercially viable products. For this purpose I founded Apeiron and was able to attract excellent management. I am impressed to see how quickly and successfully the basic idea was translated into a clinical project with such promising perspectives. GSK is a most welcome partner for further development."
Hans Loibner, CEO of Apeiron, added: "We are very pleased that we could attract GSK, one of the world's top pharmaceutical companies, to license this exciting project. I am convinced that Apeiron's know-how in this area, together with the extensive development and marketing capabilities of GSK, are the best way forward to bring an innovative therapy to patients worldwide."
Manfred Reichl, Chairman of the Supervisory Board and business angel, stated: "Remarkably, Apeiron achieved this major success without prior Venture Capital financing, but only with individual private investors. This proves that the Biotech cluster in Vienna has come a long way and is catching up to global standards in research quality, management capabilities and financing."
About ARDS:Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is an acute, severe injury to the lungs associated with a variety of conditions, such as sepsis, aspiration of acidic gastric contents, trauma, postoperative complications, acute pancreatitis, and pneumonias e.g. due to infections with human influenza viruses. According to recent analyses, it affects millions of individuals worldwide/year (up to one million in OECD countries alone). ARDS has a mortality rate of 30-50% and, up to date, no effective drugs exist to treat this life-threatening condition.