Apeiron Biologics AG has granted GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) exclusive rights to APN01, a recombinant form of human Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2, (rhACE2) for treating Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), in a deal with a possible value of £207 million. Apeiron will receive an up-front payment of £11 million in cash and equity investment, and will receive royalties on net sales.
Hans Loibner, CEO of Apeiron, said, “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, noted, “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.”
ARDS is an acute and 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. According to recent analyses, it affects millions of individuals worldwide each year with up to one million in OECD countries alone.
The mortality rate is 30-50 per cent and to date no effective drugs exist to treat this life-threatening condition.
Apeiron was founded by Josef Penninger, Director of the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In addition to developing APN01, the company has two further projects in preclinical development, also stemming from Penninger’s research.