Merck Serono SA has acquired a multiple sclerosis candidate drug from bankrupt US biopharmaceutical company Peptoimmune. The drug, PI-2301 is ready for a Phase II clinical trial. Peptimmune was a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based therapeutics firm that filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this year after it failed to raise $35 million.
PI-2301 is a second-generation molecule derived from a similar compound class as Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd's (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) Copaxone. PI-2301 is believed to work by enhancing the regulatory response of the immune system, and dampening immune responses that drive autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Merck will evaluate the product for autoimmune diseases including multiple sclerosis/
Merck Serono currently markets Rebif for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Peptimmune also has two additional multiple sclerosis drug candidates, which are readying for Phase I clinical trials: ARX 424 is a long-acting interferon, and ATX-MS-1467 is an immune-tolerizing agent. Merck Serono is also collaborating with Australia's Bionomics Ltd. on the development of multiple sclerosis drugs that target nerve cell damage in patients with multiple sclerosis.
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