Affibody will receive $1.2 million over initial 21 months of collaboration.

Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi) will pay Affibody SEK12 million (about $1.7 million) over the next 21 months as part of a research collaboration and option agreement centered on the development of treatments for interleukin-1 (IL-1) related inflammatory diseases. SEK 2.5 million ($360,000) of the total will be paid as an up-front fee. Future milestone payments will also be due.

The collaboration will exploit Affibody’s antibody mimetic Affibody™ platform and Albumod™ albumin-binding technology for increasing the circulatory half-life of biopharmaceuticals. R&D will focus on up to five different protein targets involved in the regulation of immune and inflammatory processes, including a lead preclinical-stage candidate for the inhibition of IL-1 beta. The collaboration builds on a previous partnership between the firms centered on a biological candidate now in IND-enabling studies.

Over the course of the initial two-year period Sobi retains an option to negotiate exclusive worldwide rights to any or all of the five candidates. The firms will bear their own research costs, with Affibody shouldering most of the discovery phase work, and Sobi taking on clinical development.

Sobi says the focus on IL-1 will complement its approved IL-1 receptor blocker Kineret® (anakinra), and with its capabilities in biologics development. “This agreement with Affibody deepens our collaboration by establishing a strategic alliance in the area of inflammation,” comments Sobi CEO Geoffrey McDonough. “We believe the Affibody platform offers potentially unique therapeutic advantages, and the efficient translation from discovery to biologics development offered by our close association fits our innovation model very well.”

Sobi’s Kineret is approved in various markets for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, and has been granted orphan drug status. Last week Sobi filed for FDA approval of the drug for treating neonatal-onset multisystem inflammatory disease (NOMID) under its cryopyrin-associated periodic syndromes (CAPS) orphan drug designation. Kineret achieved sales of SEK 134.7 million (about $19.9 million) in the first quarter of 2012, up from SEK 107.2 million ($15.2 million) during the equivalent 2011 period. Sales of the drug in calendar year 2011 were SEK 422 million ($60 million).

In its financial results for the first quarter of 2012 Sobi projected filing for European regulatory approval of Kineret for the CAPS indication during the second half of 2012. 

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