March 24, 2022 Press Release Animalcare Group and Orthros Medical
Animalcare partners with Orthros Medical in VHH antibody research and development for treatment of canine osteoarthritis
Early development pipeline strengthened in target therapy area through licensing and investment in novel treatments utilising VHH antibodies
24 March 2022.
Animalcare Group plc (AIM: ANCR) today announced that it has entered into two early-stage agreements with Netherlands-based Orthros Medical, a company focused on the research and early development of VHH antibodies, also known as small
single chain antibody fragments. Through the collaboration, Animalcare secures a global exclusive licence from Orthros
Medical for two preclinical VHH candidates initially addressing canine osteoarthritis. Additionally, the Group is entering into a research and development agreement with Orthros Medical with the objective of adding further projects to the licence agreement. Under the terms of the deal, Animalcare will make upfront payments to Orthros Medical totalling €500,000 and will fund some early research activities as part of the collaboration. As the two licensed preclinical candidates progress, Orthros Medical may receive development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments up to a total value of €11 million as well as single digit royalties on net sales of the products. These payments are expected to be paid out of the Group’s operating cash flow.
The licensed candidates will be developed as mono and combination therapy for local application in osteoarthritic joints to enable pain relief and, potentially, disease modification. The candidate profiles are complementary to Daxocox, the Group’s COX-2 inhibitor approved for the treatment of osteoarthritis-related pain in dogs.
Found in llamas and other camelids, small single chain fragments of the variable domain of heavy-chain only antibodies (VHH) offer new opportunities for the research and development of innovative drug treatments for use in human and animal patients. VHH antibodies feature significant therapeutic advantages over other types of antibody. They are small, relatively easy to engineer, have high specificity and can be quickly cleared from the system thereby promising a good safety profile. VHH-based therapeutics have received regulatory approval in the human health arena.
Jenny Winter, Chief Executive Officer of Animalcare Group plc said: “This partnership represents a key building block in our long-term growth strategy. We are keen to expand our early-stage pipeline by seeking out innovative technologies to meet evolving customer needs in a fast-growing, competitive market. Working with Orthros Medical, we have an exciting opportunity to build our future pain and osteoarthritis portfolio while exploring further potential of Orthros Medical’s VHH technology in animals.”
Robert Jan Lamers, Chief Executive Officer of Orthros Medical said: “We are excited to combine Orthros Medical’s pre-clinical expertise in research and formulation in VHH products with Animalcare’s development, regulatory and commercial expertise. We are confident the partnership will generate multiple opportunities to develop novel and differentiated osteoarthritis products for animals.”
This announcement contains inside information for the purposes of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 596/2014.
Animalcare Group plc is a UK AIM-listed international veterinary development and sales & marketing organisation. Animalcare operates in seven countries and exports to approximately 40 countries in Europe and worldwide. The Group is focused on bringing new and innovative products to market through its own development pipeline, partnerships and
via acquisition. For more information about Animalcare, please visit www.animalcaregroup.com
About Orthros Medical
Dutch biotech company Orthros Medical focuses on the development of VHH-based therapeutics and diagnostics for animal and human health. The unique properties of single chain VHH antibody fragments offer great opportunities in the treatment and diagnosis of disease. A spin-off of the University of Twente in the Netherlands, Orthros Medical is privately owned and closely collaborates with the university in research and development programmes.
For more information about Orthros, please visit www.orthros-medical.com
July 6, 2021 published on IHS Markit, author Joseph Harvey
Orthros Medical offers antibody opportunity to animal health collaborators
Dutch firm Orthros Medical is aiming to extend the use of llama antibodies into the animal health sector.
The company is working on its own internal pipeline of disease-modifying osteoarthritic drugs for dogs and horses.
Orthros’ candidates are based on VHH single chain antibodies that target inflammation and pain. The drugs are applied
via intra-articular injection into the joint or area of pain and are formulated as slow-release gels.
The VHH concept is well established in the human health sector, with Ablynx – a pioneering business in this area – selling
to Sanofi for $4.8 billion in 2018. Llama antibodies are around 10 times smaller than that of humans. This gives them low
immunogenicity, effective over a longer period of time, easier to engineer and cheaper to produce compared to
conventional antibody-based medicines.
Orthros was founded in 2017 to pursue the use of VHH to tackle osteoarthritis in humans and animals. The company’s
chief executive Robert Jan Lamers said the first product candidate for osteoarthritis-related pain is set to be evaluated in
pet dogs before the end of 2021, before progressing to human trials. The company is also working on a therapy targeting
inflammation in dogs with osteoarthritis. Further down the line, Orthros will also study indications in horses.
“The VHH field is now accelerating in the human market,” Mr Lamers told IHS Markit Animal Health at the recent Animal
Health Innovation USA forum. “We feel there is also a great opportunity in animal health because of the low cost of goods,
it is easy to engineer and its high specificity. We can make VHH with two functionalities. One function is to anchor to a
specific tissue and the other is to target a disease trigger.”
He also suggested there should not be any significant hurdles when taking VHH-based therapeutics to the regulatory
authorities, with this type of product having already been scrutinized by regulators in the human health sector.
Mr Lamers pointed out: “These antibodies are small and we produce them for local applications – in the joint, for
example. If they get into circulation, they are pretty quickly cleared by the body. This gives them a good safety profile.”
As well as seeking co-development partners for its pipeline, Orthros has another string to its bow. The company can also
manufacture VHH at GMP-grade on a contract basis for any animal health businesses interested in using the antibodies for
other indications. Mr Lamers noted the first application of VHH is for localized diseases.