NESS-ZIONA, Israel ¿ Proneuron Biotechnologies Inc. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. entered a collaborative licensing agreement last week to expand applications of Copaxone (COP-1) as a neuroprotective agent in acute and chronic neurological diseases.
COP-1 is Teva¿s only proprietary drug, for which it holds exclusive marketing rights for treatment of relapsing- remitting multiple sclerosis.
Dale Miller, Proneuron¿s chairman, said the new drug targets to which Teva gains rights include Alzheimer¿s disease, brain trauma, glaucoma, Parkinson¿s disease and stroke.
Proneuron, a five-year-old privately held company, will retain rights to develop COP-1, or glatiramer acetate, for spinal cord injury and peripheral neuropathy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Huntington¿s disease.
Miller said, ¿Given Teva¿s success in the development and commercialization of Copaxone for multiple sclerosis, Teva is a natural partner for developing new uses for glatiramer acetate.¿ He emphasized the strengths of Jerusalem-based Teva ¿ mainly a generic drugmaker but one with a great interest in expanding into biotechnology ¿ and those of Proneuron, a younger company with promise in cell therapies, biological and immune medicine.
¿Our preclinical data on glatiramer acetate, combined with its known safety profile in multiple sclerosis, encourage us about the potential for the compound in other neurological disorders.¿ Miller said. ¿Moreover, we retained three clinical indications that will allow us to further our own development as a basic-through-clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company.¿
Proneuron, which has offices in Los Angeles and Israel, will receive payments related to clinical and regulatory milestones for each clinical indication that Teva develops, as well as royalties on Teva¿s worldwide net sales for all commercialized indications.
Teva acknowledged that this is seen as a longer relationship by placing a $10 million equity investment in Proneuron. Teva¿s investment will fund development and commercialization of the indications it pursues, and will promote preclinical research activities conducted at Proneuron.
The therapeutic potential of Proneuron¿s platform technology was originally developed by Proneuron scientific founder Michal Schwartz, professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. She and her colleagues announced recently that glatiramer acetate may be an effective neuroprotective agent for many neurological disorders. The Weizmann Institute and Yeda, its development arm, granted Proneuron an exclusive license to intellectual property relating to the discovery.
Schwartz said, ¿Applications of COP-1 will sensitize T cells and act as an antigen so the T cells will rescue and protect neurons in a mechanism of action that is totally different from that which Teva uses for MS.¿
Irit Pinchasi, Teva¿s deputy corporate vice president of research and development, said, ¿We¿re always meeting with start-ups, companies, incubators, research institutions, hospitals and venture funds ¿ anyone in Israel connected with what is called applied research. The emphasis is on the early stages of development.¿