Firm requested return of drug because Cephalon’s new owner Teva has a competing drug in development.

ImmuPharma is taking back from Cephalon all rights to the Phase II-stage systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) therapeutic candidate Lupuzor™ (rigerimod). The firm says it requested return of the drug from licensee Cephalon in light of the latter’s recent $6.8 billion takeover by Teva, which is developing a competing candidate, laquinimod, which is in Phase II.

Cephalon had negotiated its $15 million exclusive option to Lupuzor in 2008. It exercised its option to exclusively license the drug for global development from ImmunoPharma in 2009 following positive data from a Phase IIb trial conducted by ImmuPharma. At the time it paid ImmuPharma another $30 million as part of a deal that was potentially worth $500 million in cash milestone payments.

The two firms will work together to decide on the future of ongoing clinical trials of Lupuzor in Europe and the U.S., which have been initiated by Cephalon since it licensed the drug. A Phase IIb study with the CD4 T cell modulator was started in mid-2010.

ImmuPharma has four other programs in its development pipeline. The anticancer nucleolin antagonist (Nucant) peptide candidate, IPP-204106, is in early clinical development in patients with a range of cancers. It is being supported in part by over €1 million in grants from French national research agencies. IPP-102199 is a preclinical candidate for the treatment of postoperative and severe cancer pain. The met-enkephalin-based drug is being developed as nonaddictive morphine alternative.

IPP-203101 is a peptide-based antibiotic in preclinical development for the potential treatment of MRSA and other severe-hospital-acquired, multidrug-resistant infections. Finally, IPP-201007 is a phospholipase A2 inhibitor chemical series, identified from ImmunPharma’s library of compounds. The firm says that it has potential applications in the reduction of allergic reactions and inflammatory disorders. 

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