irish times

Irish pharma group Nexvet signs R&D pet drug deal

Nexvet Biopharma, the listed Irish group developing cutting edge therapies for domestic pets, has signed an R&D deal with Japanese animal health group Zenoaq.

The companies are looking to capitalise on a growing market for therapies for companion animlas – generally, dogs, cats and horses – targeting immuno-oncology and allergy/inflammation. Immuno-oncology relies on harnessing the immune system to fight tumors.

Nexvet, which is headquartered in Ireland, is led by serial extrepreneur Mark Heffernan, who was previously chief executive of Trinty College immunology drug development spinout, Opsona.

The company listed earlier this year on Nasdaq, and carries out most of its research work in Melbourne, Australia where it was founded. Its current focus is on addressing chronic pain in dogs and cats and inflammatory disease in dogs.

The company looks to apply drugs that have already been proved safe and effective in trials for human therapies. Using its patented PETization technology, it creates biologic monoclonal antibodies that are recognised as “native” by an animal’s immune system, a property Nexvet refers to as “100% species-specificity.”

“Zenoaq has identified exciting new biologic candidates for the treatment of several conditions with significant unmet medical need,” said Dr Heffernan. “This opportunity allows us to rapidly create therapeutics that will be developed for veterinary indications, by applying our platform technology to mAbs [monclonal antibodies] whose targets have been validated by compelling data in humans.”

Zenoaq president Keiichi Takano said Nexvet’s PETization platform was a “unique, robust approach to overcoming the interspecies conversion challenges presented by biologic drug design. They are the logical partner for rapid, risk-reduced development in this emerging area of veterinary pharmaceuticals”.

Neither company disclosed the financial terms of the arrangement though they said development costs would be shared equally between the two comapnies. Zenoaq wil continue to hold the right to market any product in the EU and Asia but Nexvet will have the rights to the lucrative US market and in other global markets.

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