U.K. biotech Tiziana Life Sciences negotiated an exclusive license to Novimmune’s fully human anti-interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R) monoclonal antibody, NI-1201, in return for undisclosed upfront, milestone, and future royalty payments.

Tiziana maintains that in contrast with other anti-IL-6R mAbs, such as Roche’s Actemra® (tocilizumab), which exert their effects predominantly through binding to a membrane-bound receptor, NI-1201 acts both on membrane-bound IL-6R and on soluble IL-6R and is also able to deplete IL-6 circulating in blood. The firm believes that the unique mechanism of action of NI-1201 could also complement its own fully human oral anti-CD3 mAb candidate foralumab (NI-0401).

“We view NI-1201 as a potential game-changer for addressing the high unmet need of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases” commented Gabriele Cerrone, Tiziana chairman. “The acquisition of NI-1201 not only strengthens our business strategy of developing novel fully human mAbs to treat life-threatening inflammatory diseases such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and rheumatoid arthritis, but also expands our potential to leverage the pioneering work we are doing with foralumab, the oral anti-CD3 mAb to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”

Tiziana’s lead clinical-stage candidate, Milciclib, is a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor in Phase II trials for the treatment of thymoma and in preclinical development against liver cancer. In November 2016, Tiziana reported positive data from animal studies with foralumab, which it claimed demonstrated the potential utility of the drug for the treatment of NASH, diabetes, and other inflammatory diseases. During mid-2016, Tiziana acquired the Sardinian firm Shardna’s biobank and established a Sardinian subsidiary, LonGevia Genomics, to exploit the biobank for target discovery and diagnostics.

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