CSL secures rights to organ transplant rejection therapy

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CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) has announced a strategic collaboration and purchase option agreement with Canadian-based Vitaeris to expedite the development of clazakizumab as a therapeutic option for solid organ transplant rejection.

Clazakizumab is a humanised, monoclonal antibody that binds to and inhibits Interleukin-6 (IL-6), an important driver of the inflammatory response that is known to play a key role in transplant rejection.

According to the terms of the agreement, Vitaeris will retain control of projects through end of Phase 3.

The organisation will receive an upfront cash payment of US$15 million from CSL, followed by R&D milestone payments over several years.  The agreement grants CSL an exclusive option to acquire Vitaeris, and includes future sales-related payments to Vitaeris, as well as a royalty to the company responsible clazakizumab's discovery, Alder BioPharmaceuticals.

Professor Andrew Cuthbertson, chief scientific officer of CSL, said, “CSL is committed to developing therapies for patients with rare and life-threatening conditions.  Vitaeris’ transplant rejection program is complementary to CSL’s current development activities in solid organ transplant. This is an exciting strategic alliance in an important area of unmet clinical need.”

“This partnership enables Vitaeris to maintain autonomy in defining our research strategy and conducting clinical development of clazakizumab. It aligns our company with CSL’s global leadership in immunology and leverages our shared goal to transform healthcare for solid organ transplant recipients,” said Dr Kevin Chow, president and CEO of Vitaeris.

Clazakizumab has been specially engineered to remove antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity and complement-dependent cytotoxicity. Clazakizumab has been administered in clinical trials involving over one thousand patients and has performed well against safety and efficacy criteria with acceptable tolerability in autoimmune diseases, said the company.