The amount represents the first tranche of a total investment of $111.8 million by GMS in TauRx in exchange for a 20% equity stake in the pioneering pharmaceutical company. The completion of the remaining $80.3 million investment by GMS is expected before the year end.
"This investment by GMS affirms Genting's confidence in TauRx and will be directed to the conduct of our pivotal global phase III clinical trials in mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease with LMTX, TauRx's Tau Aggregation Inhibitor (TAI),” said Claude Wischik, executive chairman and co-founder of TauRx.
The drug is the first TAI to be tested in late stage clinical trials. The phase II trial in over 300 patients with an earlier version of the drug showed a 90% reduction in the rate of disease progression over two years, a result also supported by functional brain imaging.
The first study in the phase III program will involve 833 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease over 12 months, while the second study will include 500 people with mild Alzheimer's disease over 18 months. A third, smaller study will aim to confirm treatment benefit in FrontoTemporal Dementia in 180 subjects over 12 months. The clinical trials will be conducted in parallel and on a global basis.
In connection with the investment, TauRx appointed Genting Berhad executives to its board of directors: Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, chairman and CEO of Genting Berhad, and Tan Kong Han, president and COO of Genting Berhad.
Furthermore, as part of the share subscription by GMS, TauRx and GMS will form a joint venture which will leverage on the Genting Group's network and presence in Asia and which will focus on redefining healthcare delivery for Alzheimer's and early cognitive impairment in Asia.
"The joint venture's business model would redefine healthcare delivery for one of the most costly medical conditions of our time—Alzheimer's disease, as it integrates each step in the continuum of healthcare delivery from the development of clinics specializing in early detection, through the management of cognitive impairment with innovative diagnostic tools to the early intervention with LMTX,” said Wischik.
LMTX is a second-generation TAI that targets the Tau tangles and their precursors, dissolving them in order to halt harmful effects on memory. The joint venture would have the potential to create a clinic-based assessment and treatment capability that does not impact on TauRx's ability to offer distribution and marketing rights to conventional pharmaceutical partners active in Asia.