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GEN News Highlights : Sep 9, 2011

Sucampo Taps Numab for Antibody Discovery and Development Expertise

Deal covers drugs against up to four Sucampo targets, which Numed will identify and develop to IND stage.

Sucampo Pharmaceuticals inked an R&D collaboration with Numab focused on the discovery of antibodies using the latter’s high-affinity antibody technology. Under terms of the deal, Sucampo can designate up to four targets, against which Numab will discover antibodies and develop them to the IND stage in return for FTE-based payments and discovery success-dependent fees.

The agreement also provides for licensing agreements through which Numab would be entitled to clinical development milestone payments and sales royalties. Sucampo will be responsible for clinical development and retains all commercial rights to any resulting biologic. The firm has also agreed to provide up to CHF 5 million as collateral for a loan to Numab from a third party.

Numab is a recently founded Swiss biotech focused on the discovery and development of high-affinity antibody-based therapeutics against complex integral membrane proteins such as GPCRs or ion channels, which have traditionally proved intractable to antibody development.

Sucampo's expertise is centered on the development of ion channel-activating prostone-based therapies for gastrointestinal, respiratory, vascular, and central nervous system diseases. Commenting on the Numab deal, Sucampo CSO and CEO, Ryuji Ueno, M.D., said, “This agreement also is an opportunity to maximize our knowledge of a variety of targets that result in several large, underserved patient populations. By applying Numab’s antibody technology to these targets, we plan to develop biologic products with a different mechanism of action that will be complementary to the prostone-based compounds we now have in development.”

Sucampo’s prostone drug portfolio is headed by two marketed drugs: Amitiza® (lubiproston) for the treatment of chronic idiopathic constipation and irritable bowel syndrome with constipation in adults, and Rescula® (unoprostone isopropyl), which has been approved in the U.S. for the treatment of glaucoma and ocular hypertension.  

The firm has in addition submitted to FDA data from Phase IV studies in pediatric CIC  patients with renal impairment and in patients with hepatic impairment. Phase III development of Amitiza for treating opioid-induced bowel dysfunction are ongoing. Rescula is currently also undergoing preclinical development for treating dry age-related macular degeneration. A third clinical candidate, cobiprostone, is in Phase II development for the prevention of NSAID-induced ulcers, and in preclinical development for treating oral mucositis and COPD.