26 May 2010

Canbex Therapeutics Ltd and Fast Forward LLC are joining forces to develop VSN16R, an oral small molecule therapy with superior tolerability, for spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Canbex Therapeutics Ltd, a spin-off company from University College London (UCL), and Fast Forward LLC, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s subsidiary, today announced a partnership to fund pivotal studies that will support an Investigational New Drug (IND) application for Canbex’s VSN16R compound.

The agreement with Canbex is the first collaboration between Fast Forward and an early stage biotechnology company to advance a specific symptom treatment for MS. Many people with MS experience spasticity, muscle spasms and stiffness that may be associated with pain or tightness in muscles and joints, often resulting in difficulty walking or carrying out everyday activities. Current treatments for spasticity can often cause significant side effects, such as muscle weakness, fatigue and drowsiness, which can limit their effectiveness for MS patients.

Fast Forward will provide funds for studies that will accelerate the testing of VSN16R in clinical trials. VSN16R is a small molecule compound that has shown good evidence of anti-spastic effects in laboratory models of MS and spasticity. VSN16R works through a novel mechanism of action that does not appear to cause unwanted side effects, and therefore has the potential to develop into a well-tolerated, effective therapy that could substantially improve the quality of life for patients suffering from this chronic and crippling disease.

“We are absolutely delighted to have secured Fast Forward’s support for our new experimental MS drug,” said Professor David Selwood, Chief Scientific Officer and Director of Canbex. “This project has been a great collaborative effort, with many research labs contributing to the hard science behind the new medicine. With Fast Forward’s support we will continue the safety studies needed to evaluate this drug in MS patients.”

We are pleased to partner with Canbex to accelerate the development of an innovative new approach to address a key unmet need for treating MS,” said Dr Timothy Coetzee, Fast Forward’s President. “VSN16R has the potential to add a new tool for the treatment of spasticity found in MS. Fast Forward’s partnership with Canbex reflects our overall commitment to seek out and fund young biotech companies with products that might fill critical unmet needs for treating MS that could lead to improved quality of life for people living with MS.”

About Canbex Therapeutics Ltd
Founded in 2005, Canbex Therapeutics Ltd is a spin-out company from The Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research at University College London that is focused on the development of novel small molecule treatments for spasticity in MS and other neurological disorders. The novel orally active lead compound VSN16R is effective against spasticity in the Chronic Relapsing EAE mouse model of MS and has the potential to be substantially more tolerable than existing anti-spastic agents. The original work on this compound was conducted in the labs of the founders, Professor David Selwood and Professor David Baker (now at Queen Mary, University of London), by Dr Cristina Visintin, Dr Masahiro Okuyama and Dr Gareth Pryce.

Canbex is a virtual, low-burn company that was set up as a vehicle for the development of VSN compounds. Building on the expertise of its founders, Canbex has assembled a highly experienced team of experts in pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, preclinical and clinical development, finance and business development. In addition to Fast Forward’s recent investment, other shareholders and investors include the Bloomsbury Bioseed Fund; Esperante Ventures, the family investment fund of the owners of Ferring Pharmaceuticals; UCL Business PLC; and The Wellcome Trust. Operational and business development activities are managed by UCL Business PLC, the commercialisation company for University College London.

About Fast Forward LLC
Fast Forward LLC is a non-profit-making organisation established by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in order to accelerate the development of treatments for MS. Fast Forward will accomplish its mission by connecting university-based MS research with private-sector drug development, as well as by funding small biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies to develop innovative new MS therapies and repurpose FDA-approved drugs as new treatments for MS. www.fastforward.org

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS is a chronic, unpredictable neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. It is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. These problems may be permanent or may come and go. The National MS Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organisations around the world, and providing programmes and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. The National MS Society wants to do something about MS now, and is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS.

Join the movement at www.nationalMSsociety.org.

Links
National MS Society News

Further Information
For further information please contact Dr. Chris Williams, Business Manager, UCL Business on 020 7679 9000, (c.williams@uclb.com).