Apeiron licences immunocancer biologic from Merck
Vienna/Darmstadt – Austrian Apeiron Biologics AG has in-licensed Merck's KgaA’s antibody-interleukin fusion protein hu14.18-IL2 for an undisclosed sum. The drug candidate, that is ready to be tested in Phase III studies, binds to melanoma, neuroblastoma and other tumour cells expressing the GD2 antigen and mediates antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) and complement-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (CDCC) through its antibody function. Through its cytokine moiety, it mediates NK- and T-cell dependent cellular immune responses against tumour cells. In a small Phase II study, approx 27% of a subgroup of children with neuroblastoma showed complete response over 35 months. Apeiron said that it will continue clinical development to further investigate the protein's therapeutic potential in this indication, an incurable cancer with poor prognosis. With the drug candidate, Apeiron will fuel its pipeline of proprietary drug candidates after it has licensed out its lead product APN01 (recombinant human Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2, rhACE2) for treatment of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome to GlaxoSmithKline in March 2010.