Updated on 2 June 2016
Japanese pharmaceutical major Chugai Pharmaceutical Co Ltd has concluded a license agreement with Roche for SA237, an investigational, humanized monoclonal antibody designed to target the IL-6 receptor, created by Chugai.
SA237 was invented by Chugai to block the activity of the IL-6 receptor, and successfully applies Chugai's proprietary antibody-recycling technology. This design enables the antibody to bind to the target antigen repeatedly to extend the activity of antibodies.
With its design, SA237 is expected to show clinical benefits with small injection volumes and long intervals between injections. Two multinational pivotal Phase III studies with patients suffering with neuromyelitis optica, an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system characterized by severe inflammation of the optic nerve and spinal cord, are currently being conducted by Chugai in more than ten countries, including US, Europe and Asia.
"This agreement demonstrates the potential of SA237, which utilizes our unique antibody-engineering technology," says Chugai's Representative Director, President and Chief Operating Officer, Tatsuro Kosaka. "Currently, there are no approved drugs available for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica. Chugai, together with Roche, is determined to pursue joint effort in accelerating development of SA237 to bring a viable treatment option to patients living with this debilitating disease."
Under the agreement, Chugai grants Roche exclusive license for the development and marketing of SA237 worldwide, with the exception of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Chugai will continue to be responsible for product manufacturing and supply of SA237. Per the terms of the agreement, Chugai will receive an upfront fee, milestone and royalty payments from Roche.