Biocon's Syngene International and Sweden's Innate Pharma to develop virulence blockers

Biocon Ltd has announced that Syngene International Pvt Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary and Innate Pharmaceuticals AB, Umea, Sweden have concluded a cooperation agreement to jointly develop, manufacture and market virulence blockers to counteract bacterial diarrhoeal disease. Virulence blockers are a new class of drugs that could become an alternative to antibiotics.

Clinical studies of therapeutic effect will be conducted over the next three years and a candidate drug will be developed to the stage of a limited Phase II study in patients with diarrhoeal disease. Once therapeutic effect is demonstrated, Syngene will carry out further clinical studies enabling the virulence blocker to be registered as a drug for the treatment of bacterial diarrhoeal disease. Innate Pharmaceuticals will have European marketing rights, while Syngene will have rights to other parts of the world market. Each company will receive royalties on the sales conducted by the other.

Besides speeding virulence blockers towards the clinical phase, this cooperation greatly reduces Innate Pharmaceuticals' risk exposure and provides the company with the financial capacity to further develop virulence blocking drugs. Additional resources will also allow Innate Pharmaceuticals to strengthen the patent protection for its virulence blockers.

Dr Goutam Das, COO, Syngene International Pvt Ltd, "We are delighted to announce this long term research cooperation with Innate Pharmaceuticals. Together we are committed to developing virulence blockers as alternatives and complements to antibiotics. This effort is also towards a new class of targets hitherto not exploited."

Virulence blockers disarm certain bacteria, rendering them incapable of causing disease, without affecting the body's normal bacterial flora, thus reducing the risk that the bacteria will develop resistance to the drug. With virulence blockers yet to reach the market, it is crucial that the two companies demonstrate that these drugs can prevent or cure human infectious disease.

Diarrhoeal diseases are one of the biggest factors in the global disease burden. There is an extensive medical need for drugs to treat diarrhoeal diseases, which affect over one billion people worldwide every year. In the USA alone, diarrhoeal diseases lead to 1.8 million hospital visits and over 3,000 deaths each year. In India, an estimated 400,000 deaths occur due to diarrhoeal disease every year.