Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Proximagen acquires two central nervous system drug development programmes

Proximagen Group plc , the company with a principal focus on the treatment of disorders of the central nervous system (CNS), has announced that it has signed an exclusive agreement with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to acquire the global rights to two drug development programmes. 

Both programmes target diseases of the CNS; the more advanced program is ready to enter the clinic to be investigated for its potential to treat cognition disorders.

Proximagen is acquiring these assets following the announcement by GSK in February that it would be stopping drug discovery efforts in some areas of neurosciences including psychiatry and pain. 

The programmes, which have had substantial investment by GSK to date, are designed to develop positive allosteric modulators (PAMs) and have the potential to address the needs of patients suffering from a variety of disorders of the CNS including cognition, neuropathic pain, and Parkinson's disease. Both PAM programmes represent an opportunity to circumvent the potential issues of limited efficacy and tolerance seen with some agonist programmes targeting the same receptors in early clinical development.
The more advanced programme targets the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) and has a Phase I-ready compound which has achieved positive efficacy in relevant models of disease whilst at GSK (“the α7 Programme”).  The second programme is at an earlier stage and targets the dopamine D1 receptor (“the D1 Programme”) which is implicated in several neurological indications, including Parkinson’s disease. The D1 Programme is complementary to Proximagen’s PRX5 programme looking at cognition in Parkinson’s disease and will further the Company’s understanding of potential treatment pathways.

Both of these drug candidate programmes complement and strengthen Proximagen’s existing portfolio of more than 15 innovative therapeutic programmes addressing diseases of the CNS, inflammation and oncology.  The further development of the α7 Programme and D1 Programme will be undertaken by the Company’s existing CNS drug development team, within which there is particular expertise in developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as cognitive decline and Parkinson’s disease. In addition, the clinical development of the assets will be monitored by Jackie Hunter, member of the Board of Directors of Proximagen, who was formerly with GSK, holding a range of roles including Senior Vice President and Head of the Neurology & GI Centre of Excellence for Drug Discovery (CEDD).

Commenting on the announcement, Kenneth Mulvany, Chief Executive Officer of Proximagen, said: “Proximagen has had the opportunity to review a considerable number of external drug development programmes since its £50M fundraising in June 2009 and we are delighted that GSK has agreed to entrust these high quality development programmes to us. The agreement today allows these compounds, which were originally generated in the UK, to remain within the UK with Proximagen and we look forward to applying our specialist expertise to the further development of these drug candidates before partnering certain territories under a global clinical and commercial development plan.

“The company has been seeking to acquire premium development assets that fit well with our business model and complement our specific areas of scientific expertise.  The acquisition of these programmes from GSK broadens Proximagen’s pipeline and leverages our significant expertise in the development of drugs to address diseases of the CNS.  There remains a pressing requirement for novel therapeutics that address the needs of patients suffering from these disorders and these programmes further demonstrate our commitment to become a patient-focused biopharmaceutical company. We are excited by the opportunity of building on the work already undertaken on these programmes and on the substantial investment made by GSK.  Furthermore we believe that the signing of the agreement strengthens our existing relationships with GSK and endorses the quality of Proximagen’s development and commercialisation expertise in the area of the CNS.”  
Jackie Hunter, CBE, Member of the Board of Directors of Proximagen, said: “I am delighted that Proximagen has acquired these high quality assets from GSK. The data generated to date is compelling and I am looking forward to the clinical development of these compounds whilst at Proximagen.”

Proximagen Group plc