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Ipsen Enters Into Option Agreement to Acquire Canbex Therapeutics

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Ipsen and Canbex Therapeutics Ltd have announced that Canbex has granted Ipsen an option giving Ipsen the exclusive right to purchase 100% of Canbex shares upon completion of the Phase IIa study of Canbex’s lead candidate for the treatment of spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), known as VSN16R.

Canbex is a spin-off of University College London (UCL) that raised a Series A financing of $3.2 million in 2013 from MS Ventures (the corporate venture arm of Merck Serono, Merck KGaA), the Wellcome Trust and UCL Business Plc.

VSN16R is a novel, orally active small molecule compound intended for the treatment of spasticity in MS and other disorders. Preclinical and Phase I clinical studies have demonstrated that VSN16R has the potential to provide substantially better patient care than existing systemic anti-spastic treatments.

Spasticity is a debilitating and painful symptom of MS that consists of involuntary spasms of limbs and torso musculature. With VSN16R, Canbex aims to set a new standard in the treatment of spasticity, and to improve the lives of people worldwide with this serious and incurable disorder.

VSN16R was shown to be safe and well tolerated in its Phase I clinical safety trial.  In the Phase I study, 72 healthy volunteers were enrolled in a placebo-controlled, single ascending- and multiple-ascending dose design.

Marc de Garidel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ipsen stated: “Ipsen is delighted to enter into a partnership with the UK biotech company Canbex. Their lead compound has demonstrated excellent safety, efficacy and tolerability to date and fits well within our neurology franchise. Indeed, it could be a valuable companion product to Dysport® in the treatment of spasticity. The agreement with Canbex also reflects our ambition to maintain our business development efforts to complement organic growth.”

Dr Keith Powell, Chairman of Canbex commented: “Canbex is excited to be working with Ipsen, because of its leading expertise in spasticity and its commitment to providing better treatments. Ipsen is excellently placed to help bring our promising new medication to patients in this important and poorly served medical need.”

Under the financial terms of the agreement, Ipsen has paid an option fee of €6 million ($6.8 million) to Canbex. If Ipsen elects to exercise its option to acquire Canbex at the end of the proof of concept Phase IIa study, Canbex’s shareholders will be eligible to receive a total of up to an additional €90 million ($103 million), comprising an acquisition payment, and additional milestone payments contingent upon launch subsequent to achievement of clinical and regulatory success. In addition, Canbex shareholders will be eligible to receive royalties on world-wide annual net sales of VSN16R.