Glaxo inks $330M pact for Apeiron lung drug

GlaxoSmithKline is willing to wager up to $330 million on an early-stage lung disease drug in Apeiron Biologics' pipeline. The Austrian biotech struck the deal on APN01, an enzyme biotherapeutic currently in Phase I development for acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Glaxo--which has a big focus on lung drugs--gets the exclusive rights to the drug in exchange for 12.7 million euros ($17.7 million) in cash and an equity investment. Milestone payments reach up to 239 million euros, or roughly $330 million. The disease has a mortality rate of 30 percent to 50 percent, and there is no approved therapy to treat it.

"When I returned to Austria after several years of basic research in North America, I had the vision of translating some of my research, including that for ACE2, into clinically useful and commercially viable products," says Josef Penninger, a scientist and founder of Apeiron. "I am impressed to see how quickly and successfully the basic idea was translated into a clinical project with such promising perspectives.

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