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GEN News Highlights : Sep 21, 2011

Unigene Divests Site-Directed Bone Growth Patents to Kieran Murphy

Company aims to start proof-of-concept trials to evaluate biocompatible bone cements in combination with bone anabolics.

Peptide therapeutics specialist Unigene Laboratories has divested its site-directed bone growth (SDBG) patent portfolio to development-stage firm Kieran Murphy in order to focus on its core drug development and oral peptide drug delivery platforms. Under terms of the deal, Unigene will receive future sales royalties of over 7%, as well as 40% of any future licensing revenues, or 40% of the proceeds from the sale of any SDBG patents by Kieran Murphy.

“SDBG was the one remaining noncore asset that did not fit Unigene’s high valuation drug development and oral peptide delivery strategy,” comments Greg Mayes, vp of corporate develpment and general counsel at Unigene. “We have now found an excellent home for this otherwise valuable asset...With more than 7% royalties and 40% of any licensing or sales proceeds, Unigene will more than recoup what it has invested in the SDBG program to date.”

Unigene has consequently also terminated an existing exclusive license agreement with Kieran Murphy, and ended a research and license option agreement with Yale University: the firm had previously been working with Yale researchers on the SDBG technology, but has now returned a number of relevant patents to the university.

“I recognize the tremendous value in the site-directed bone growth program and also recognized Unigene’s need to focus on the strength of its oral delivery platform and to cleanly exit the collaboration we began several years ago,” remarks Kieran Murphy, M.D., who heads his namesake firm and is vice chair and chief of medical imaging at the University of Toronto. Dr. Murphy says the aim now is to move SDBG into a proof of concept trial. This will evaluate bone compatible cements in combination with a bone anabolic agent on new bone growth in patients undergoing vertebroplasty. The ultimate aim is to identify partners for commercialization.