Genesis & SR Pharma to Develop Therapy for Eczema
Auckland and London, 20th November 2001 — Genesis Research and Development Corporation (NZSE/ASX: GEN) and SR Pharma plc (LSE:SPA) today announced an agreement for the joint development of a treatment for eczema (atopic dermatitis). This drug development programme is in addition to the continuing asthma collaboration between the companies.
Under the new agreement, the companies will merge each of their existing eczema programmes and select the most effective therapeutic. Both companies are currently investigating product candidates based on Mycobacterium vaccae. SR Pharma has completed one trial and is expecting results mid 2002 from a second United Kingdom Phase I/II paediatric trial using SRP299. Genesis is expecting results from a New Zealand Phase I/II adult trial using AVAC™ during the first quarter of 2002, and has approval from the New Zealand Ministry of Health to extend this study to include children. The companies are planning to start Phase II trials of AVACTM and SRP299 in childhood eczema during 2002. When these trials are completed the companies will select the most effective candidate for further clinical development and licensing. Genesis and SR Pharma will share commercial returns from whichever product is licensed.
In March 2001 the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published results of the first SR Pharma trial showing that treatment with SRL172 (an earlier formulation of M. vaccae) significantly improved the symptoms of children suffering from moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, conducted at Booth Hall Children’s Hospital, Manchester, involved 41 children between the ages of 5 and 18. They received either a single intradermal injection of SRL172 or a placebo. After 3 months those children treated with SRL172 showed a mean 48% reduction in surface area affected compared with a mean of 4% reduction for the placebo group (p< 0.001), and a median 68% reduction in eczema severity score compared with 18% for the placebo group (p<0.01). SRL172 was generally well tolerated and in no case was any of the children’s eczema made worse by treatment.
Dr David Kennard, Chief
Operating Officer of SR Pharma said:
“The Manchester trial clearly demonstrated the potential of the technology in the treatment of childhood eczema. Pooling our expertise with Genesis gives us a further treatment option for this distressing condition and enables us to share future development costs.”
Genesis Chief Executive, Dr Jim Watson commented: “The positive response from the Manchester trial provides support for the continuing development of our novel therapeutic approaches. This collaboration with SR Pharma builds on our current asthma collaboration and strengthens the intellectual property of each company.”
Founded in 1994, Genesis is a New Zealand-based biotechnology company committed to the building of a broad genomic platform for the development of innovative products in health and plant biotechnology. Genesis partners with industry leaders to develop products that have global market potential through the mining of its extensive microbe, plant and mammalian EST databases. Genesis has three programs in human clinical development, with additional programs in pre-clinical development and in plant biotechnology. For more information, please visit www.genesis.co.nz
SR Pharma plc, a London based biopharmaceutical company founded in 1992, is committed to developing innovative medicines based on an improved understanding of the role played by the immune system in combating disease. The company's proprietary M. vaccae based technology is the source of a number of product developments. SRP 299 is in clinical development in asthma and atopic dermatitis. SRL172 is being investigated in cancer and viral infections. These products regulate immune responses associated with allergic disorders while enhancing those needed to combat cancer and infection. The Company's web site can be found on www.srpharma.com.
About Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis, or allergic eczema, is a common skin disease with characteristic itching, redness and thickening. It is a disease that may significantly affect the quality of life of the sufferer. Eczema is usually treated with topical corticosteroids, but there can be both local and systemic side effects if they are used long term or in high doses. The prevalence of atopic dermatitis has been steadily increasing in many countries. The National Eczema Society in the United Kingdom estimates that up to one fifth of all children of school age have eczema, along with about one in twelve of the adult population.