InterveXion Therapeutics, Medicago Establish Alliance to Develop Antibody Therapeutics

By todd


Company Started in UAMS Incubator Moves Closer to Clinical Trials


LITTLE ROCK –InterveXion Therapeutics, a company started in the biomedical business incubator at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), and Medicago, a Canadian biopharmaceutical company, announced today the formation of multi-year product co-development collaboration.


The two companies will use Medicago’s Proficia™ Protein Technology for the production of monoclonal antibodies therapeutics designed to treat drug abuse.


InterveXion has received a $3 million grant to conduct clinical trials for the first antibody treatment for addiction to the drug known as phencyclidine, or PCP. The business development grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides funding for five years to obtain Food and Drug Administration approval and conduct clinical trials on a protein-based therapy intended to provide detoxification and protection from PCP abuse. InterveXion will follow the PCP therapy with a similar therapy for the much larger methamphetamine abuse market.


Medicago will receive milestone payments from InterveXion to produce the PCP antibody for the completion of necessary clinical trials. This agreement will be expanded later this year with the addition of another antibody.


“We are delighted with this opportunity to collaborate with InterveXion. Drug abuse is one of the most serious health problems and has very few treatments. Producing the antibodies in plants can drastically reduce the commercial production costs for the treatment and make medications more affordable to the patients who need them. Our technology gives us the power to produce required quantities of the antibody with speed and cost advantages. We expect this collaboration to further validate the unique ability of our technology to expedite the drug development and product approval,” said M. Andy Sheldon, president and chief executive officer of Medicago.


“We believe Medicago to be an ideal partner to rapidly develop our antibody. We expect a short clinical path due to proven safety of monoclonal antibody therapies and the unmet medical need for these treatments. We hope that working closely with FDA and NIDA we can formulate an accelerated clinical program to get the drug approved in three to four years  We look forward to working with Medicago to achieve this goal,” said Barry Holtz, Ph.D., the president and chief executive officer of InterveXion.


Michael Owens, Ph.D., director of the UAMS Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse and a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the UAMS College of Medicine, invented the addiction treatment. Owens joined Brooks Gentry, M.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology, and pharmacology and toxicology at UAMS; Ralph Henry, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville; and Holtz to start InterveXion in early 2004. Owens is the chief science officer, Gentry is the chief medical officer and Henry serves as vice president for biopharmaceuticals.


Medicago has developed a breakthrough therapeutic protein manufacturing system, Proficia™, which can greatly improve the cost and accessibility of today’s emerging biotherapeutics for both partners and patients. Medicago’s safe and versatile Proficia™ system is fuelling multiple product developments programs for biotechnology and pharmaceutical partners as well as the company’s own proprietary pipeline of products.


InterveXion Therapeutics, LLC, is a company focused on the development of protective therapies using monoclonal antibodies. InterveXion has licensed this technology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. InterveXion Therapeutics is developing monoclonal antibodies to treat substance abuse from PCP and methamphetamine. Abuse of these stimulants is increasing and no therapies are currently available for treatment. The Company is developing InterveXimab-PCP for the treatment of PCP abuse and InterveXimab-METH for the treatment of methamphetamine abuse. These therapies are monoclonal antibodies that can “absorb” these toxins in the bloodstream to reduce the acute effects of overdose and can also be used in the chronic setting to help abusers overcome their dependency.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has more than 2,200 students and 660 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.1 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.