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Lundbeck signs shark antibody deal with Ossianix

Danish firm also plans to sell three injectable products to Indian company Akorn Inc

Lundbeck has made an undisclosed investment in US biopharma company Ossianix to support the development of a series of compounds for central nervous system disorders.

The investment - in the form of a promissory note - gives Lundbeck right of negotiation for compounds generated using Ossianix's proprietary single domain antibody platform modelled on the shark vNAR (variable new antigen receptor) structure.

Sharks have especially robust immune systems, leading to speculation that shark-like antibodies could have a role to play in the treatment of human diseases.

Founded in 2011 by Frank S Walsh and Corey Goodman and located in the University City Science Center in Philadelphia, Ossianix has produced shark single-domain vNAR phage library and has drug discovery programmes ongoing in a variety of therapeutic areas.

"We wish to develop our biologics portfolio further and Ossianix's technology has the potential to tailor the power of the single domain antibodies to a variety of unique drug targets," commented Peter Hongaard Andersen, Lundbeck's senior vice president of external scientific relations, who is joining the company's board.

Plans to offload injectables

Meanwhile, Lundbeck has agreed to sell three speciality pharmaceutical products to India's Akorn Inc for around $60m as part of an effort to focus on "newer, strategic products".

The divested products are Nembutal (pentobarbital sodium), Cogentin (benztropine mesylate) and Sodium Diuril (chlorothiazide sodium), all of which were all acquired by Lundbeck as part of its $900m purchase of Ovation Pharmaceuticals in 2009.

Akorn is gaining US entitlement to the products, and Lundbeck is not retaining any royalty rights.

The divestment will allow Lundbeck to focus on newer products such as the firm's new epilepsy drug Onfi (clobazam), which has just been launched in the US.

The company will also give more attention to aripiprazole depot for schizophrenia and Lu AA21004 (vortioxetine) for depression, according to Lundbeck's chief exective, Ulf Wiinberg.

As part of the agreement, Akorn will continue Lundbeck's restricted distribution programme for Nembutal, a short-acting barbiturate used for sedation and as a hypnotic that carries some risk of diversion as a recreational drug.

4th January 2012


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