In clinical studies for the lead indication of multiple sclerosis (MS), Revimmune improves function in most patients and stops progression in over 90 percent of cases refractory to standard therapies.
Accentia Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ABPI) has acquired the exclusive worldwide rights for Revimmune?, a patent-pending pharmaceutical treatment in late-stage development for a variety of autoimmune diseases. The in-license advances the Company’s strategy of acquiring late stage drug candidates that can benefit from the 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway. Revimmune uses an ultra-high intensity, short-course of an intravenous formulation of an approved drug (cyclophosphamide), in a new patent-pending method to “reboot” a patient’s immune system, thereby eliminating the autoimmunity, whereas current therapies including oral cyclophosphamide are used chronically to try to suppress the inflammation of autoimmunity. Based on long-term follow-up showing complete remissions, there is substantial evidence that Revimmune has the potential to cure cases of severe refractory autoimmune diseases such as aplastic anemia and myasthenia gravis. Accentia’s lead indication for Revimmune is multiple sclerosis (MS).
The Principal Investigator for the ongoing MS study with Revimmune at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is Dr. Douglas Kerr, Associate Professor of Neurology. Dr. Kerr stated: “Based on follow-up of up to 2 years, most people have a substantial improvement and many have a complete elimination of disease activity.” The co-Principal Investigators on this study are Dr. Daniel Drachman and Dr. Robert Brodsky.
The Revimmune license covers all of the estimated 80 autoimmune diseases that are currently recognized. These include multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, juvenile diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, myasthenia gravis, and scleroderma. To date, over 175 patients, mostly those with severe refractory autoimmune diseases, have been treated with Revimmune. The Company believes that Revimmune is a “platform” technology that can be used in any autoimmune disease.
Revimmune can be administered as an inpatient or outpatient infusion for 4 hours per day for 4 consecutive days. Patients can recover at home while their immune system reconstitutes itself over a 2 to 3 week period. Revimmune includes a risk management program to enhance patient safety by ensuring appropriate patient selection, supportive care, and tracking of outcomes data.
Developed by Dr. Richard Jones, Dr. Robert Brodsky, and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Revimmune works by temporarily eliminating peripheral immune cells, including the immune cells causing the autoimmunity, while selectively sparing the stem cells in the bone marrow. Investigators at Hopkins discovered that stem cells uniquely have high levels of a particular protective enzyme that can be measured in advance of therapy, which makes them impervious to Revimmune, and allows the surviving stem cells to give rise to the new immune system over 2 to 3 weeks. The newly reconstituted peripheral immune system typically lacks the misdirected immunity to self-antigens, which is characteristic of autoimmune diseases.
“Revimmune complements our strategy of developing late-stage, “disruptive” clinical products based on already approved active pharmaceutical ingredients. This product strategy is the basis of our lead product, SinuNase?, in which the active pharmaceutical ingredient is the approved antifungal, amphotericin B, and which we were able to advance directly into a Fast Tracked Phase 3 clinical trial for chronic sinusitis,” said Dr. Frank E. O’Donnell, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Accentia Biopharmaceuticals. “Revimmune offers the hope of sustained remissions and cures for autoimmune diseases such as MS, thereby eliminating, or reducing dependence on chronic immunosuppressive therapies, which we believe are more toxic, carcinogenic, inadequate, inconvenient, and very expensive, especially in the case of monoclonal antibodies. Revimmune’s use would also obviate the risk and expense of allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplantation to treat severe cases of autoimmune diseases. After consultation with the FDA, Accentia is preparing an IND for severe refractory multiple sclerosis and is proposing to enter Phase 3 clinical trials to support licensure under the 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway, which is an abbreviated regulatory process available when dealing with approved active pharmaceutical ingredients. The IND incorporates a novel risk management program to ensure appropriate patient selection, supportive care, and tracking of outcomes, which we believe will be critical to reimbursement coverage and malpractice protection for healthcare providers.”
The technology is being licensed from Revimmune, LLC, a Hopkins Capital Group II LLC (HCG II) portfolio company, which holds the exclusive license for the technology from the Johns Hopkins University. HCG II had been exploring a license to the technology since 2003. Dr. Frank E. O’Donnell Jr. is a managing partner of HCG II. More details of the license can be found in the Company’s 8-K filing. HCG II is not affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University.