ALLSCHWIL, SWITZERLAND - 26 June 2015 - Actelion Ltd (SIX: ATLN) today announced the creation of a start-up, together with the Max Planck Society, in the field of synthetic carbohydrate vaccines.
The new company, Vaxxilon, aims to discover, develop, and commercialize synthetic carbohydrate vaccines. Vaxxilon has licensed exclusive rights to multiple preclinical vaccine candidates and additional technologies from Max-Planck Innovation GmbH, the technology transfer office of the Max Planck Society.
Actelion is the principal investor and majority shareholder, having made a funding commitment of up to EUR30 million, to be released in tranches over a period of three to four years.
Jean-Paul Clozel, MD and Chief Executive Officer of Actelion, commented: "Actelion has had success in advancing the science of the endothelium, and translating it into therapeutic options for the PAH community. Our long-term success depends on building additional specialty areas. We have been impressed by the work performed by the team of Prof. Seeberger and I am very happy that Actelion can help to translate this work into prophylactic and therapeutic options."
The first preclinical candidates were discovered and synthesized by Prof. Dr. Peter Seeberger and his team at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, near Berlin. An additional key component of the technology was jointly developed by Prof. Seeberger and Prof. Gennaro de Libero of the University Hospital of Basel. Vaxxilon plans to advance its first vaccine candidate into man within 3 years.
Jean-Paul Clozel concluded: "Synthetic carbohydrate vaccines represent an exciting opportunity and have great potential. By creating Vaxxilon with the Max Planck Society we are building a platform from which synthetic carbohydrate vaccines could become a commercial reality within the next decade. This investment represents an innovative way to find synergies between the academic and industrial worlds."
Prof. Dr. Seeberger, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces, commented: "I am very proud that the ground-breaking research and technology from the Max Planck Society in cooperation with my colleague at the University Hospital of Basel, Prof. Gennaro de Libero, will be advanced in the form of Vaxxilon. I believe that the speed and flexibility of a small company, combined with Actelion's financial backing, will allow this novel vaccine technology to progress and eventually be made available to society quickly and efficiently. This new class of vaccines promises to be perhaps more efficient, faster and more reproducible to create and manufacture, and has advantages of distribution and administration which may improve access to vaccines around the world."
Vaxxilon will be led by Tom Monroe who has served in multiple and varied roles of growing responsibility at Actelion over the past 15 years. Four accomplished chemists from Prof. Seeberger's group will form the initial scientific team at Vaxxilon, and recruitment will begin quickly for additional experienced personnel. Vaxxilon, a Swiss limited liability company, will be headquartered in Reinach, Switzerland, and a research facility will be established in Berlin.
The company will be overseen by a Board of Directors with representatives of Actelion, Prof. Seeberger, and an independent director as well as an observer from the Max Planck Society. David Stout, recently elected to the Actelion Board of Directors, and former President of Pharmaceutical Operations at GlaxoSmithKline, will serve as chairman.
Notes to Editor:
ABOUT SYNTHETIC CARBOHYDRATE VACCINES 
Currently available carbohydrate conjugate vaccines are made using polysaccharides isolated from bacteria. Automated methods to synthesize carbohydrates rapidly enable the construction of novel vaccines in the laboratory and accelerate research into effective antigens. These vaccines combine a synthetic oligosaccharide with a glycolipid CD1d ligand and could remove the requirement for protein carrier and immune stimulator (adjuvant).
Vaxxilon AG is dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative synthetic carbohydrate vaccines to prevent, first and foremost, bacterial infections. Vaxxilon has licensed multiple preclinical vaccine candidates to target pathogens for which there are no approved vaccines, or for which existing vaccines do not fully meet medical needs. Vaxxilon was created in 2015 by Actelion Ltd and the Max Planck Society. The company is based on the scientific insights and innovation of Professors Peter Seeberger of the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces and Gennaro de Libero of the University Hospital of Basel. For more information see www.vaxxilon.com
ABOUT THE MAX PLANCK SOCIETY
The Max Planck Society (MPG) (www.mpg.de) is Germany's leading research organization. In 83 Max Planck facilities, more than 5,500 scientists and over 7,600 graduate students, undergraduates, student assistants, and visiting scientists conduct basic research in the natural sciences, life sciences and humanities. The Max Planck Society was founded in 1948 as a successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society which was established in 1911. Since then, 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from its ranks. The institutes are of international repute and attract top researchers from around the world. In addition to five foreign institutions, the MPG operates another 14 Max Planck Centers with research institutions such as the Princeton University in the USA, Science Po in France, the University College London in UK, and the University of Tokyo in Japan. Equally funded by federal and state governments, the Max Planck Society has an annual budget of 1.6 billion Euros.
1. Marco Cavallari et al. A semisynthetic carbohydrate-lipid vaccine that protects against S. pneumoniae in mice. Nature Chemical Biology 10,950-956(2014). DOI: 10.1038/nchembio.1650
Actelion Ltd. is a leading biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of innovative drugs for diseases with significant unmet medical needs.
Actelion is a leader in the field of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Our portfolio of PAH treatments covers the spectrum of disease, from WHO Functional Class (FC) II through to FC IV, with oral, inhaled and intravenous medications. Although not available in all countries, Actelion has treatments approved by health authorities for a number of specialist diseases including Type 1 Gaucher disease, Niemann-Pick type C disease, Digital Ulcers in patients suffering from systemic sclerosis, and mycosis fungoides type cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.
Founded in late 1997, with now over 2,400 dedicated professionals covering all key markets around the world including Europe, the US, Japan, China, Russia and Mexico, Actelion has its corporate headquarters in Allschwil / Basel, Switzerland.
Actelion shares are traded on the SIX Swiss Exchange (ticker symbol: ATLN) as part of the Swiss blue-chip index SMI (Swiss Market Index SMI(R)). All trademarks are legally protected.
For further information please contact:
Andrew C. Weiss
Senior Vice President, Head of Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Gewerbestrasse 16, CH-4123 Allschwil
+41 61 565 62 62
The above information contains certain "forward-looking statements", relating to the company's business, which can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "estimates", "believes", "expects", "may", "are expected to", "will", "will continue", "should", "would be", "seeks", "pending" or "anticipates" or similar expressions, or by discussions of strategy, plans or intentions. Such statements include descriptions of the company's investment and research and development programs and anticipated expenditures in connection therewith, descriptions of new products expected to be introduced by the company and anticipated customer demand for such products and products in the company's existing portfolio. Such statements reflect the current views of the company with respect to future events and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Many factors could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the company to be materially different from any future results, performances or achievements that may be expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein as anticipated, believed, estimated or expected.
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Source: Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd via Globenewswire
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Actelion Pharmaceuticals Ltd
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