Xenome seals deal with big European

By Pete Young
Friday, 08 March, 2002

Fresh from inking pacts with two drug development companies, marine toxin specialist Xenome Ltd is on the verge of finalising many more similar deals, says CEO Tony Evans.

The attraction is Xenome's library of anti-pain molecules gleaned from its venom research work. Melbourne-based Cytopia was the first to strike a collaborative venture to evaluate Xenome's molecules for anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer use.

This week, Xenome scored a larger coup by entering a collaborative arrangement with European analgesic drug discovery company Ionix.

It will screen Xenome's library of toxin peptides based on natural venoms for compounds that work against Ionix proprietary ion channel drug targets. Ionix technology is focused on sodium channel drugs involved in the perception and signalling of pain in the peripheral nervous system. The aim is to create new medicines for management of chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.

The agreement calls for Xenome and Ionix to collaborate on the design, synthesis and screening of toxins and derivatives over the next year.

Xenome and Ionix will work together on the development and commercialisation of any drug candidates that derive from the collaboration, which will be likely to involve co-investment to proof-of-concept clinical trials and downstream corporate partnering for commercialisation.

The pact is "an incredible tick in the box for our technology and its value to overseas companies," Evans said.

Perhaps significantly for Brisbane-based Xenome, Ionix is backed by a number of heavyweight venture capital funds including Apax Venture Partners which reportedly has a war chest of five billion euros and The Wellcome Trust.

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