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EUSA Pharma Acquires Development and Commercialization Rights to ASPAREC® for Treatment of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia from Alizé Pharma

LANGHORNE, Pennsylvania and OXFORD, England, February 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

EUSA Pharma, a transatlantic specialty pharmaceutical company focused on oncology, oncology supportive care and critical care, today announced that it has acquired the exclusive worldwide development and commercialization rights to ASPAREC® for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) from Alizé Pharma. Under the terms of the agreement, EUSA will pay Alizé Pharma an upfront fee, regulatory milestone payments and royalties on future product sales.  

ASPAREC is a recombinant, pegylated Erwinia chrysanthemi-derived asparaginase. It is currently in phase I development for the treatment of ALL in patients with hypersensitivity to standard-of-care E. coli-derived asparaginase therapy, and has been granted orphan status by the US and European regulatory authorities.  Preclinical data indicate that ASPAREC is potentially longer acting and less immunogenic than currently available asparaginase Erwinia chrysanthemi.

Commenting on the news, Bryan Morton, President and Chief Executive Officer of EUSA Pharma, said, "We are delighted to reach this agreement with Alizé Pharma.  ASPAREC fits perfectly with EUSA's specialty focus on oncology and orphan diseases, and builds on our established portfolio in the field of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  This agreement follows the approval last year of EUSA's first internally developed product, and further underlines the company's strategic transition into a fully fledged development as well as commercialization organization."

"This agreement between Alizé Pharma and EUSA Pharma, a worldwide leader in the development and marketing of L-asparaginase products, is excellent news for us, for our investors and for ALL patients," said Alizé Pharma's President and founder, Thierry Abribat. "It validates our medical approach, emphasizes our drug development capabilities, and fits well with our business strategy, which is to establish partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry early in the development of our programs in order to secure both near-term and long-term revenue streams."

About acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common form of childhood cancer, with approximately 2,900 patients under the age of 20 diagnosed in the USA each year [1].  It is also one of the most curable forms of cancer, with remission rates in treated children of over 95% and 75 - 85% surviving at least five years without recurrence of leukemia [1].  Treatment involves a number of stages and drugs, and typically includes asparaginase as an essential component of current protocols.  

About asparaginase and ASPAREC

Asparaginase enzymes deplete the level of asparagine in the bloodstream.  Asparagine is essential for cell growth, and its removal from the blood inhibits the growth of cells associated with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.  Asparaginase treatments are derived from bacteria, and approximately 15 - 20% of patients develop hypersensitivity to modern products derived from Escherichia coli, preventing their continued treatment [2].  ASPAREC is a proprietary recombinant, pegylated Erwinia chrysanthemi-derived asparaginase in development for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in patients with hypersensitivity to E. coli-derived therapies.  Preclinical data indicate ASPAREC is potentially longer acting and less immunogenic than currently available asparaginase Erwinia chrysanthemi.  

About EUSA Pharma

EUSA Pharma is a rapidly growing transatlantic specialty pharmaceutical company focused on oncology, oncology supportive care and critical care products.  The company has an established commercial infrastructure in the US, a pan-European presence and a wider distribution network in numerous additional territories.  EUSA currently has a total of 10 specialist hospital products, which are sold in over 80 countries globally*.  These include Erwinase®/Erwinaze and Kidrolase® for the treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Caphosol® for the treatment of oral mucositis, a common and debilitating side-effect of radiation therapy and high dose chemotherapy, Collatamp® G, a surgical implant impregnated with the antibiotic gentamicin, ProstaScint® for imaging the extent and spread of prostate cancer and Quadramet® for the treatment of pain in patients whose cancer has spread to the bones.  The company also has a number of products in late-stage development.


[1] US National Cancer Institute.  Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia treatment (PDQ®).

[2] Raetz EA, Salzer WL.  J Pediatr Oncol 2010:32:554-563.

* Not all products are approved currently for use in the US

Bryan Morton    
Chief Executive    
EUSA Pharma    
Tel: +44(0)1865-784255    

Rob Budge
RJB Communications
Tel: +44(0)1865-760969
Mobile: +44(0)7710-741241

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