TauRx Pharmaceuticals Ltd. announced the receipt of a further equity investment of US$31.5m from Genting Management (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Genting Berhad. The amount represents the first tranche of a total investment of US$111.8m by GMS in TauRx in exchange for a 20% equity stake in the pioneering pharmaceutical company. The completion of the remaining US$80.3m investment by GMS is expected before the year end. TauRx also announced the appointment to its Board of Directors of Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Genting Berhad and Mr Tan Kong Han, President & Chief Operating Officer of Genting Berhad.
Professor Claude Wischik, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of TauRx, said: “This investment by GMS affirms Genting’s confidence in TauRx and will be directed to the conduct of our pivotal global Phase III clinical trials in mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease with LMTX™, TauRx’s Tau Aggregation Inhibitor (TAI).” The drug is the first TAI to be tested in late stage clinical trials. The Phase II trial in over 300 patients with an earlier version of the drug showed a 90% reduction in the rate of disease progression over two years, a result also supported by functional brain imaging.
According to Professor Wischik, “These Phase III studies, which have already started enrolling in the US, are aimed at confirming the disease-modifying effects seen in the Phase II trial in mild to moderate patients.” The first study in the Phase III program will involve 833 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease over 12 months, while the second study will include 500 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease over 18 months. A third smaller study will aim to confirm treatment benefit in FrontoTemporal Dementia in 180 subjects over 12 months. The clinical trials will be conducted in parallel and on a global basis including sites in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Netherlands, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, US and UK. Professor Wischik points out: “These landmark studies could provide the first definitive data on a Tau-based approach to disease-modifying and preventive treatment of Alzheimer’s and FTD, with no Tau-based alternatives generating such data for at least the next 5-7 years.”
As for the new investment by GMS, Professor Wischik adds: “This is the most significant fund-raising event in TauRx’s history; it brings the total equity raised by the group to almost US$300m since the initial company was formed in 2002.” Prof Wischik also points out that the Genting relationship brings substantial operational support to TauRx’s global clinical development program. As part of the share subscription by GMS, which will see GMS becoming the largest shareholder of TauRx, TauRx and GMS will form a joint venture which will leverage on the Genting Group’s network and presence in Asia and focus on redefining healthcare delivery for Alzheimer’s and early cognitive impairment in Asia. Professor Wischik elaborates: “The joint venture’s business model would redefine healthcare delivery for one of the most costly medical conditions of our time – Alzheimer’s Disease, as it integrates each step in the continuum of healthcare delivery from the development of clinics specializing in early detection, through the management of cognitive impairment with innovative diagnostic tools to the early intervention with LMTX™”. LMTX™ is a second-generation TAI that targets the Tau tangles and their precursors, dissolving them in order to halt harmful effects on memory. The joint venture would have the potential to create a clinic-based assessment and treatment capability that does not impact on TauRx’s ability to offer distribution and marketing rights to conventional pharmaceutical partners active in Asia. “Such an innovative and practical approach to partnering and to addressing a major societal concern is typical of the fresh commercial thinking to be found within South East Asia,” says Professor Wischik.
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