Lipoxen's Ties With Baxter Strengthen After US$4 million Deal
Lipoxen is strengthening its ties with Baxter International in a US$4 million deal that gives the drugs giant a seat on the board of UK-listed bio-pharmaceutical firm.
Under the renegotiated terms of its agreement, Lipoxen will receive a US$2 million licence fee.
The AIM-listed group is also issuing warrant rights to subscribe to US$2 million of new equity between July next year and June 2015.
But instead of receiving the US$75 million of milestone payments and royalties negotiated in 2005, Lipoxen will get US$71 million. Baxter also gets to appoint a non-executive director to the Lipoxen board.
The agreement covers the PSA Factor-VIII molecule, which treats haemophilia and uses the Lipoxen-developed PolyXen protein drug delivery technology.
Chief executive Scott Maguire said: “The continued support from Baxter of Lipoxen is key to our efforts to commercialise our platform technologies.
“We are very pleased with the ongoing positive preclinical results for the lead PSA-Factor VIII molecule which we are working on with Baxter.”
Lipoxen announced in June its partner is exploring other potential factor replacement therapies in the treatment of haemophilia A and B and for patients with inhibitors.
“We are delighted that our relationship with Baxter continues to evolve and we look forward to leveraging the expertise and success of our Factor VIII for the new candidates under investigation,” Maguire added.
“The success of the Baxter partnership and its expansion to further molecules validates the Lipoxen business model where positive pre-clinical and clinical results lead to further partnering opportunities.”
While the Factor-VIII agreement with Baxter is important, analysts say the key drivers for Lipoxen remain its improved formulations of insulin and EPO as both are potentially blockbuster drugs.
Maguire expects the phase-II Indian ErepoXen (EPO) trial, managed by Indian partner the Serum Institute of India, to report results by the year-end.
Meanwhile, the phase-II Diabetes candidate SuliXen, managed by Russian partner FDA Pharma, compares ‘favourably’ to market leader Lantus, produced by Sanofi Aventis, Maguire says.
“Our strategy is to get the out-licence areas where big pharmaceutical companies would not want to focus – like India, like Russia,” Maguire told Proactive Investors.
“They provide data for these drug candidates and then we are able to out-licence them (in the West) or fund them for development.
“It validates the application of that compound. You are not going to be able to jump into a phase II trials in the US or Europe on the back of this, but it gives us valuable data.”
Interesting too is the company’s pre-clinical work on multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and its flu vaccine, where an update is expected before the year-end.
In April the group raised £1.2 million, and it later emerged that the senior management were the “cornerstone investors” in the placing.
This underlines the confidence of Maguire and his finance director Colin Hill in the company’s prospects.
This confidence is also reflected in a two-part stock option scheme the pair signed up to in June that will see awards at 20p, 40p and 100p a share. The current share price is 8.5p a share.
“We have subscribed to the last two equity placings, “Maguire says. “We bought in the open market.
And there’s a stock option programme that goes to 20p, 40p and a pound. So we are committed.”
Lipoxen was founded by professor Gregory Gregoriadis and spun out from the School of Pharmacy at the University of London in 1997. It listed on AIM nine years later.
The company targets three specific areas – biological, vaccines and oncology drugs. It has three novel platforms to do this – PolyXen, ImuXen and VesicAll.
However the key focus of the company is the first two platforms.
The PolyXen platform is a versatile protein drug delivery technology. It is essentially based on a polymer of sialic acid which is naturally found in the body.
The polymer is attached to a drug, which generates several positive attributes. As it is a natural substance, it effectively hides the drug from the body’s immune system. And it also acts like a tail on the drug, substantially increasing its life once administered.
This means the drug dose frequency required is greatly reduced as the drug is released over a longer time. PolyXen polymers also improve the stability and water solubility.
Rather than focus solely on effectively reengineering drugs on its own, Lipoxen has opted to partner with major pharmaceutical companies such as Baxter which already have blockbuster drugs in the market, but are nearing the end of their patent protection.
Lipoxen offers them a novel solution. By taking an established drug and adding its polymer, the new drug gains all of the improved characteristics of the polymer, and as a reformulation, can reapply for a new patent.
This is clearly an opportunity many pharmaceuticals would not like to miss, and Lipoxen has already signed a string of agreements with large players to develop reengineered version of their own products.
Sep 22, 2010