Russian and Korean biotech companies Infectex, Ltd. and Qurient, Ltd. have announced a license agreement granting Infectex exclusive rights to develop and commercialize Qurient’s Tuberculosis-fighting drug Q203 in the Russian Federation, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
Infectex is a portfolio company of Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund, created with the participation of RVC capital.
Q203 is a highly innovative drug for multidrug-resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis and the first drug in its class with an original mechanism of action. The drug inhibits the growth of MDR clinical isolates of M.tuberculosis and demonstrates the efficacy in animal models of TB at very low doses. Preclinical results have recently been published in Nature Medicine (2013, vol. 19, pp. 1157–1160). Infectex will conduct additional preclinical studies and is planning to begin clinical trials by early 2015.
Dmitry Popov, Managing Partner at Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund: “We are delighted that Infectex has added a new anti-tuberculosis drug to its portfolio. In spite of the effort of the Russian government, the incidence of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis remains high in Russia. This situation creates serious social risks and has a negative economic impact. One can envision that the global strategy of tuberculosis treatment will involve the use of new and highly effective drug combinations. The drug candidates SQ109 and Q203 developed by Infectex have a great potential to become the basis for such combinations”.
According to the World Health Organization Russia has become one of the three nations with the highest incidence of MDR TB in the world including 226,000 cases of MDR TB and 34,800 cases of XDR TB reported in 2013. The Russian market for anti-tubercular drugs is well over $300 million per year, with total TB control costs estimated to be well over $1 billion. The Qurient-Infectex licensing deal could be valued at over $100 million to the parties contingent upon successful development and commercialization of the drug.
Ruslan Akhmetov, Investment Department Director at RVC: “This deal is a promising sign for us because it demonstrates that the projects where we are investing jointly with the Maxwell Biotech Venture Fund are attractive to foreign partners and have good prospects in Russia and abroad. For us as investors, we understand that in the long term we will see a good return on our investments”.
Kiyean Nam, Chief Executive Officer at Qurient: “It is an excellent opportunity for Qurient to bring Q203 to clinic in Russia and neighboring countries with a competent partner. There are huge unmet medical needs for TB, particularly for MDR/XDR TB, in many parts of the world including Russia. Qurient is ready to work closely with Infectex to provide a life-saving solution to MDR and XDR patients in the territory.”