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Oncology Alliance: Apeiron, CCRI and SIOPEN Join Forces Against Neuroblastoma

VIENNA, June 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --


Vienna based biotech company APEIRON Biologics AG (Apeiron) strengthens its oncology pipeline: The company will support the clinical development of an immune therapy against high-risk neuroblastoma that is being conducted by the Children's Cancer Research Institute (CCRI) and the European Neuroblastoma Research Network (SIOPEN). It is presently under investigation in a phase III trial across various European clinical centers. In return, Apeiron obtains the rights to file for regulatory approval and to market the final product. The approach is based on a monoclonal antibody (ch14.18) and constitutes Apeiron's most advanced project. It also marks another milestone for the company and its development strategy to treat neuroblastoma. This strategy was initiated earlier this year with the licensing of a clinical phase II project from Merck KGaA.

Today, Vienna based Apeiron announced the conclusion of an agreement with the Children's Cancer Research Institute (CCRI) and the European Neuroblastoma Research Network (SIOPEN). Thereby, Apeiron obtains the rights to further develop, file for regulatory approval and market the antibody ch14.18. This monoclonal antibody exhibits therapeutic effect against high-risk neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of infant cancer. The antibody specifically targets the antigen GD2, a feature on the surface of neuroblastoma cells and thereby initiates an immune reaction against these cells.

As part of the agreement, Apeiron will provide substantial support for an ongoing European clinical phase III trial with ch14.18. Due to the limited number of clinical centers specializing in the treatment of high-risk neuroblastoma, Apeiron is considering marketing the therapy on its own.

The Austrian company Polymun Scientific, a long-time business partner of Apeiron, has already been producing clinical supplies for the CCRI/SIOPEN sponsored clinical studies. Apeiron has now commissioned Polymun to continue production and to prepare for manufacture of material at market standard.

Dr. Hans Loibner, CEO of Apeiron: „This novel form of collaboration with CCRI and SIOPEN is a milestone for Apeiron. These non-profit organizations have accomplished remarkable clinical development achievements which we can now complement with our industrial know-how. With this collaboration, we add a project to our portfolio that is both innovative and close to the market."

Professor Ruth Ladenstein, head of the coordination center for clinical studies at CCRI, senior physician at St. Anna Kinderspital and European president of SIOP: „We are convinced to have found an ideal partner in Apeiron. Together, we will take the final steps of development for an urgently needed therapy against high-risk neuroblastoma. By applying immune therapy and other treatment improvements, we hope to increase the chances of survival for children with high-risk neuroblastoma by 30%, thereby rendering future survival rates of 60-70% realistic."

Financial details were not disclosed.

Jacqueline Bogdanovic
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