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Lonza Signs Applied Protein Services Agreement with ImmuneMed for Immunogenicity Risk Assessment and Deimmunization of Novel Protein

  • Contract covers the immunogenicity screening of ImmuneMed’s novel investigational therapeutic compound
  • Lonza will complete the pre-clinical screening followed by deimmunization of ImmuneMed’s lead compound at its development facility in Cambridge, UK
  • The immunogenicity risk assessment will be performed using Epibase™ v3, Lonza’s latest version of their T-cell epitope prediction engine

Basel, Switzerland, December 8, 2011; Lonza announced today an agreement with a South Korean Biotechnology company, ImmuneMed, Inc. for the in silico screening followed by deimmunization of their Virus Suppressing Factor (VSF), under investigation for the treatment of viruses such as the encephalomyocarditus, influenza and hepatitis. Under the agreement, Lonza will perform an immunogenicity risk assessment using their latest version (v.3) of their T-cell epitope prediction engine, Epibase™. This assessment will help reduce ImmuneMed’s attrition rate in their drug development program. The pre-clinical assessment will be performed at Lonza’s protein services and development facility in Cambridge, UK.

Lonza’s Epibase™ v.3 in silico Screening Platform incorporates the most recent experimentally generated binding affinities of peptides to the HLA receptor, as well as the characteristics of the latest 3D structures of HLA receptors. Data obtained from the in silico screening will be used to deimmunize the humanized VSF.

“We are excited to support Korea’s growing biotechnology landscape with our risk assessment services,” said Janet White, Head of Lonza’s Development Services. “This partnership is a direct reflection of Lonza’s commitment to the success of our customers’ pre-clinical pipeline.”

Virus Suppression Factor is a highly active anti-viral protein that has shown superior anti-viral activities exceeding those of known cytokines on the market today. VSF is produced in the body, similar to Interferon, however the broad spectrum of potential treatment of VSF is unprecedented as compared to any single anti-viral agent.

About ImmuneMed
ImmuneMed Inc. is a South Korean biotechnology company whose focus is the development of innovative products for the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases. ImmuneMed has discovered a highly active antiviral substance called Virus Suppressing Factor (VSF) that shows increased potent antiviral activity than any other antiviral cytokine. In addition, ImmuneMed is also developing diagnostic kits for the early detection of acute febrile illnesses such as Scrub typhus, Lepospirosis, Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, and Murine typhus. ImmuneMed was founded by its CEO, Dr. Yoon-Won Kim. It has investors such as Macrogen Inc., TAGOS Invest Corp. and Korea Venture Investment Corp.

About Lonza
Lonza is one of the world’s leading suppliers to the pharmaceutical, healthcare and life science industries. Products and services span its customers’ needs from research to final product manufacture. It is the global leader in the production and support of active pharmaceutical ingredients both chemically as well as biotechnologically. Biopharmaceuticals are one of the key growth drivers of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Lonza has strong capabilities in large and small molecules, peptides, amino acids and niche bioproducts which play an important role in the development of novel medicines and healthcare products. Lonza is also the world leader in microbial control providing innovative, chemistry-based and related solutions to destroy or to selectively inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms. Its activities encompass the areas of water treatment, personal care, health and hygiene, industrial preservation, materials protection, and wood treatment. In addition, Lonza is a leader in cell-based research, endotoxin detection and cell therapy manufacturing. Furthermore, the company is a leading provider of value chemical and biotech ingredients to the nutrition and agro markets.

Lonza is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland and is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and secondary listed on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (“SGX-ST”). Lonza is not subject to the SGX-ST’s continuing listing requirements. Lonza is subject to the listing rules of the SIX Swiss Exchange, which do not have specific requirements equivalent to the listing rules of the SGX-ST in respect of interested person transactions, acquisition and realizations, and delisting. In 2010, the company had sales of CHF 2.680 billion. Further information can be found at www.lonza.com.

Further Information
Lonza Group Ltd
Head of Corporate Communications
Dominik Werner
Tel +41 61 316 8798
Fax +41 61 316 9798
Lonze Group Ltd
Media Relations
Melanie Disa
Tel +1 201 316 9413
Fax +1 201 696 3533
Lonza Group Ltd
Head of Applied Protein Services
Philippe Stas
Tel +44 1223 89 5127
Fax +1 44 1223 89 5191
ImmuneMed Inquiries
ImmumeMed, Inc.
Chief Technology Officer
Seung-Han Kim, Ph.D
Tel +82 33 258 6550
Fax +82 33 241 1664

Lonza wins preclinical testing contract for ‘virus supressing factor’

Lonza will supply preclinical immunogenicity testing services for a candidate protein antiviral being worked on by South Korean biotech ImmuneMed.

The protein services agreement will see the Swiss firm assess the immunogenicity of a ‘virus supressing factor’ – an antiviral cytokine – ImmuneMed is developing as a potential alternative treatment for viral infection.

Lonza will conduct the analysis – including preclinical screening and deimmunization – at its development centre in Cambridge, UK using an epitope prediction technology it acquired in 2009 with the acquisition of contract research organisation (CRO) Algonomics .

The acquisition gave Lonza access to Algonomics’ Epibase and Epibase IV platforms which provide in silico T-cell epitope screening and in vitro T-cell assays respectively.

Using these technologies candidates can quickly, accurately and cost-effectively be screened for their immunogenicity profiles – enabling companies to rank proteins or vaccines in terms of safety for their development selection programmes.

The Algonomics deal was also part of a wider development services focused strategy that saw Lonza partner with Oddyssey Thera to add protein-fragment complementation services (PCS) to its small molecule profiling offering.

Attrition rates

Speaking about today’s deal Switzerland-based Lonza said ImmuneMed will be able to use the in silico screening data to improve its candidate selection processes and reduce the “attrition rate in their drug development program.”

“We are excited to support Korea’s growing biotechnology landscape with our risk assessment services,” said Janet White, Head of Lonza’s Development Services. “This partnership is a direct reflection of Lonza’s commitment to the success of our customers’ preclinical pipeline.”




Lonza to Deimmunize ImmuneMed’s Virus Suppressing Factor

South Korean biotech ImmuneMed is tapping Lonza’s protein services operation to carry out in silico screening and deimmunization of virus suppressing factor (VSF), ImmuneMed’s antiviral candidate in development for the treatment of infections including encephalomyocarditis, influenza, and hepatitis. Lonza will carry out preclinical immunogenicity risk assessment using its T-cell epitope prediction engine, Epibase™, at its protein services and development facility in Cambridge, U.K. Data generated from screening will then be used to demmunize the humanized VSF.

Offered through Lonza’s immunogenicity services, Epibase is designed to predict and compare the immunogenicity risk potential of protein leads based on T-cell epitope content. Lonza claims the latest Epibase v.3 in silico screening platform incorporates up-to-date binding affinities of peptides to the HLA receptor, and 3-D structures of HLA receptor.

ImmuneMed’s lead antiviral product VSF is based on a naturally produced protein that the firm claims shows much more potent antiviral activity than other antiviral cytokines such as interferon. The product triggers innate antiviral responses, and so could potentially be effective against a range of viruses. As a naturally produced product, VSF is not associated with resistance issues, and doesn’t generate side effects, the firm adds.

Clinical trials with VSF are expected to start in Korea in 2013, in partnership with the Seoul National University, Korea University, and Hallym University Medical Schools. Clinical development in the U.S. could potentially be initiated from 2014.

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