GeNeuro, a Switzerland-based developer of new therapies for neurology and autoimmune disorders, has entered into a strategic partnership with Servier, an independent French pharmaceutical company, to develop and market GNbAC1 in multiple sclerosis (MS). As the first drug addressing a causal factor of the disease, GNbAC1 has the potential to radically change the way MS patients are treated.
GNbAC1, a humanized monoclonal antibody, targets MSRV-Env, the envelope protein of MS associated retrovirus, a member of the HERV-W family, the expression of which is usually silent but reactivated and expressed in MS lesions from an early stage in the disease. This protein has been shown to be both pro-inflammatory and an inhibitor of remyelination, the two major drivers of MS pathophysiology.
By targeting MSRV-Env, GeNeuro expects to bring to patients a safe, effective treatment that can halt progression of both relapsing-remitting and progressive forms of the disease without hampering the patient’s immune system. GNbAC1 has successfully completed phase IIa, demonstrating an optimal safety profile and encouraging signs of efficacy on a first small cohort of patients.
“GNbAC1’s original mode of action proposes a true innovation in the field of MS,” said professor Hans-Peter Hartung, chairman of the department of neurology of the University Hospital Düsseldorf and chairman of GeNeuro’s advisory board.
GeNeuro will be responsible for the development of GNbAC1 until completion of phase IIb, after which Servier can exercise the option to license the product for all markets excluding the U.S. and Japan. Financial considerations include the payment by Servier to GeNeuro of $47 million to finance the completion of phase IIb. Subsequent to exercising the option agreement, Servier will cover the costs of the phase III global development program and pay GeNeuro up to $408 million in future development and sales milestones, as well as royalties on future sales. Servier also will have the option to take an equity stake in GeNeuro as a minority shareholder in the next 12 months.