monoclonal-antibodies-300x300Tiziana Life Sciences, a clinical stage biotechnology company developing targeted drugs for cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, announced the acquisition of an exclusive worldwide license for NI-1201, a fully human anti-interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R) monoclonal antibody (mAb), from Novimmune SA.

In exchange for the exclusive license from Novimmune, the company agreed to an upfront cash payment, milestone payments, and a royalty on future sales.

Monoclonal antibodies against IL-6R have been explored as potential drugs to treat inflammation in the past. NI-1201’s unique mechanism, however, has the potential to considerably increase anti-inflammatory activity as well as complementing the company’s programme on foralumab (NI-0401), a fully human oral anti-CD3 mAb.

“We view NI-1201 as a potential game-changer to address the high unmet need of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases,” commented Gabriele Cerrone, Chairman of Tiziana Life Sciences. “The acquisition of NI-1201 not only strengthens our business strategy of developing novel fully human mAbs to treat life-threatening inflammatory diseases such as  non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and rheumatoid arthritis, but expands our potential to leverage the pioneering work we are doing with foralumab, the oral anti-CD3 mAb to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”

“The acquisition of NI-1201 is both strategic and very exciting for Tiziana Life Sciences because a fully human anti-IL-6R mAb perfectly complements foralumab, the company’s fully human oral anti-CD3 mAb, which is being explored for treatment of NASH and type 2 diabetes,” said Professor Howard Weiner, a member of Tiziana Life Sciences’ Scientific Advisory Board. “It is known that dampening inflammatory signals driven by IL-6 enhances the induction of the regulatory mechanism induced by anti-CD3 mAb’s (Faria AM and Weiner HL. Oral tolerance. Immunol Rev. 2005; 206:232-59).”

About Anti-IL6R (NI-1201)
A key driver of chronic inflammation is excessive production of IL-6 and its receptor IL-6R, both of which are responsible for inducing inflammatory responses. NI-1201, a fully human anti-IL-6R mAb, differs from other anti-IL-6R mAb’s such as tocilizumab (Actemra, Hoffmann-La Roche), which exerts its pro-inflammatory effects predominantly through binding to membrane-bound IL-6R, in that NI-1201 acts not only on membrane-bound IL-6R, but also on soluble IL-6R, and is also able to deplete circulating levels of IL-6 in blood.