GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today acquired exclusive rights to an early-stage acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) drug from Austrian biotech company Apeiron Biologics in a deal worth up to $330 million.
GSK, the UK's biggest pharmaceutical company, acquired the exclusive rights from Vienna-based Apeiron Biologics to its 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).
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 due to infections with human influenza viruses.
According to recent analyses, it affects millions of individuals worldwide each year, with nearly one million being affected in OECD countries alone. ARDS has a mortality rate of 30-50 per cent and, up to date, no effective drugs exist to treat this life-threatening condition, said Apeiron.
Under the terms of the agreement, the London-based drug maker could potentially pay Apeiron, the privately-held company up to $330 million in total milestone payments under certain conditions.
GSK will make an upfront payment of $17.45 million in cash and equity investment to Apeiron as well as royalties on future sales.
The founder of Apeiron, scientist Josef Penninger, said, ''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.''
Manfred Reichl, chairman of the supervisory board of Apeiron said, ''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.''