Austrian Apeiron closes huge deal with GSK
Vienna – GlaxoSmithKline, the second largest drugmaker in the world, has closed its third drug development cooperation in Vienna in just over a year. After signing agreements with Intercell AG and Affiris GmbH, GSK is now to pay a maximum of EUR236m to Apeiron AG, a small start-up which has developed a therapy for acute lung injury based on the angiotensin-converting enzyme ACE2. The pharma giant will pay EUR13.5m up front, and acquires a 14% stake in Apeiron. The biotech firm will also receive 20% of turnover from sales of medicines containing the enzyme, which is being tested in a clinical Phase I study. Apeiron founder Josef Penninger told EuroBiotechNews that “Apeiron was founded to bring scientific results into a clinically applicable form, and the Apeiron management has done a fantastic job to attract a partner like GSK in such a short time.” The head of the Austrian Institute for Molecular Biology, Penninger founded Apeiron in 2003 with a6.7m in seed money provided by private financiers. “We have no VC money on board,” says CEO Hans Loibner, who is proud of Apeiron’s “lean” business model. Several years ago, Loibner was CEO of former Austrian hopeful Igeneon AG, which failed after its cancer vaccine died in Phase III development.