Apitope Raises EUR 10 Million in Series A Financing

by: Eben Tessari

Apitope International, the developer of novel peptide-based therapies for autoimmune diseases and allergies, announced the closing of a EUR 10 million series A financing. The funds will be used to further develop ATXMS- 1467, which is due to enter Phase II trials next year to treat Multiple Sclerosis (NYSE:MS). Apitope is also developing a MS diagnostic product and treatments for Factor VIII resistance and Type I diabetes. The fund raising was co-led by LRM and Vesalius Biocapital. Other investors in the round included VINNOF and the University of Hasselt (UHasselt). Innovator Capital, the Londonbased investment bank, advised on and managed the capital raising for Apitope.

The Company was initially financed by the Richard Daniels family and is developing novel advantaged products representing major advances in therapy and addressing critical unmet needs that can revolutionize the treatment of chronic autoimmune and allergic disorders. Both types of diseases are caused by an inappropriate reaction of the patient’s immune system against self (autoimmune) or foreign (allergic) antigens.

Apitope’s technology platform for the design of peptide therapeutics (Antigen Processing Independent epiTOPES or ApitopesTM) is based on established scientific evidence showing that soluble, synthetic peptides can reinstate tolerance and attenuate pathological immune responses. The unique Apitope peptides function as tolerogens exerting their therapeutic effect via an highly selective immune re-balancing process that, in pre-clinical studies, has been linked to the induction of IL-10 secreting regulatory T cells. These peptides selectively inhibit the immune system’s harmful attack on the body while preserving the normal immune response to harmful antigens, such as infections.

Apitope is developing novel peptide therapeutics for MS, Factor VIII resistance and Type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and the common allergies. The lead product, ATX-MS-1467 for the treatment of MS, has recently passed a successful phase I/IIa study and is about to enter phase IIb development. Apitope recently reported the results of a phase I/IIa open label trial in six patients with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (SPMS). Besides demonstrating good safety and tolerability, preliminary evidence of a positive clinical response against the vaccine was observed in two patients. A second vaccine candidate for treating Factor VIII resistance is planned to enter clinical development in 2009. Apitope is also developing novel diagnostic products for the early detection of autoimmune diseases such as MS and RA. The diagnostic activities are centralised in Diepenbeek, Belgium.