Funds for oral fludarabine will keep Antisoma financially secure through mid-2011.

Antisoma sold sanofi-aventis U.S. rights to the FDA-approved chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) drug oral fludarabine for $65 million. The deal roughly doubles Antisoma’s cash resources and means the company will be able to fund its operations including clinical and preclinical pipeline development until at least mid-2011.

This, according to CEO, Glyn Edwards, “is well beyond when we expect key Phase III results for our leading products, ASA404 and AS1413.” Both compounds are designed to treat cancer. At December 2008, Antisoma reported  £52.7 million, or slightly over $79 million, in cash resources.

Antisoma acquired U.S. rights to oral fludarabine as part of its $52.2 million share-based buy-out of Xanthus Pharmaceuticals in June 2008. The drug was approved by the FDA as second-line therapy for CLL in December 2008. Xanthus had itself acquired exclusive U.S. rights to the drug from Schering (now Bayer Schering Pharma) in June 2006.

The agreement with sanofi-aventis calls for a $60 million up front and additional, staged payments amounting to $5 million. The money will be used to complete Phase III trials with ASA404 and AS1413.

ASA404 is a small molecule tumor-vascular disrupting agent (VDA) which is being developed initially against lung cancer. ASA404 is being developed worldwide by Novartis, which negotiated exclusive, worldwide rights to the drug from Antisoma in 2007. The deal was worth a potential $890 million in total up-front, development, regulatory, and sales-related milestone payments.

Novartis has indicated it plans to pursue clinical development of ASA404 against breast cancer as its next priority indication, according to Antisoma’s vp marketing and communications, Daniel Elger.
AS1413, a DNA intercalator in development against secondary AML, is being developed in-house. Elger also confirmed the company plans to keep hold of the drug for the U.S. market but will partner at some stage for other territories. Results from the Phase III trial of AS14132 are expected in late 2010 or early 2011.

Past News from Sanofi-Aventis
Sanofi-Aventis Shutters 13 Clinical Programs, Gains Four from Oxford BioMedica, and Returns TroVax (Apr. 29, 2009)
Sanofi-Aventis to Acquire BiPar in Deal Valued at $500M (Apr. 15, 2009)
Sanofi-Aventis to Commercialize AEterna Zentaris’ Late-Stage BPH Drug in the U.S. (Mar. 6, 2009)
MIP to Develop Peptide-Selective Polymers for Sanofi-Aventis (Dec. 10, 2008)
ImmunoGen Obtains $4M Milestone from Sanofi-Aventis for Anticancer Compound (Oct. 28, 2008)

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