Dendright Enters into Collaboration with Janssen Biotech, Inc. to Develop Rheumatoid Arthritis Immunotherapy

August 12, 2013.

Dendright Pty Ltd, an autoimmune therapy company, today announced that it has signed a R&D collaboration and option to license agreement with US-based Janssen Biotech, Inc. (Janssen) to develop and commercialise Dendright’s tolerizing immunotherapy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). 

Under the terms of the agreement, Dendright will receive funding to support the preclinical development of the RA immunotherapy through to Phase I clinical trials and the development of companion biomarkers. In return, Janssen will receive an option to the exclusive worldwide right to develop and commercialise Dendright’s RA therapy.  In addition to an option payment, Dendright is eligible to receive certain potential development and sales milestones as well as tiered royalties on sales.

Dendright will be responsible for completing the Phase I clinical trial in Australia. Janssen will be responsible for all other development, clinical and regulatory filing activities. Dendright will remain wholly owned by UniQuest Pty Ltd, the commercialisation company of The University of Queensland.

RA is caused by immune system dysfunction and affects millions of people worldwide, destroying joints and causing cardiovascular complications that can reduce life spans by 10 years. Dendright’s approach targets the underlying cause of the disease and therefore is differentiated from existing RA therapies which merely treat the inflammatory symptoms once the disease has developed. In addition, unlike existing drugs, Dendright’s tolerizing autoimmune technology results in a targeted therapy, and allows suitable patients to be selected based on specific biomarkers prior to treatment, thereby improving response rates.

The new collaboration will build upon the results of previous preclinical work and develop the RA immunotherapy towards Phase I clinical trials. In January 2012, UniQuest and Dendright announced a R&D collaboration with Janssen, where Janssen provided a seed grant to Dendright for Professor Ranjeny Thomas and her team to undertake preclinical development of the platform technology in RA.

Dendright’s uses its proprietary Curcusome™ platform technology with disease specific antigens to develop tolerizing autoimmune therapies. The therapy stimulates the patient’s own immune system to “re-educate” the cells that cause autoimmune disease. The Dendright technology induces a state of tolerance or reduced activity to the offending self-antigens resulting in an effective treatment for the long term management of the specific autoimmune disease.

“We are very pleased to be continuing our strategic collaboration with Janssen focussing on the application of our platform technology towards rheumatoid arthritis, said Professor Ranjeny Thomas, Dendright’s Founder and Director. “Our goal is to provide RA patients with a new, safe therapy for the management of their disease, with possibility of disease prevention in the future.”

About Dendright Pty Ltd

Dendright Pty Ltd was established in 2005 and assisted by grants from the Queensland Government’s Innovation Start-up Scheme and the Australian Government’s Biotechnology Innovation Fund so that Professor Ranjeny Thomas and her team could focus on finding a way for the body’s own immune system to “re-educate” the cells that cause autoimmune diseases. Professor Thomas’ research at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute has also been supported by Arthritis Queensland, a peak community organisation, the Australian Research Council and Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council.

In addition to the RA therapy in preclinical development, the Dendright platform technology is being used to develop new therapies for type 1 diabetes.

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