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Worg (China) maximizes potential with biotech firm Apitope
Worg, a Chinese clinical stage biopharmaceutical firm, is aquiring Apitope, a biotech company that’s headquartered in Diepenbeek (Flanders) and focuses on autoimmune diseases with significant unmet medical needs. “Together, we will maximize our potential,” comments Stéphane Verdood, Managing Partner at Vesalius Biocapital, one of Apitope’s majority stakeholders.
Taking the win
Headquartered in Hangzhou, Worg is a specialty biopharma company that develops new treatments for allergies. Always seeking new business opportunities in this field, it is now acquiring Apitope’s proprietary platform and therapeutic pipeline, which consists of clinical, preclinical, and discovery stage assets for the treatment of a range of autoimmune diseases.
Apitope was founded in 2002 as a spin-off of the University of Bristol in the UK, but has a research department in Diepenbeek, Flanders. Its most advanced research program is focused on the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Since the start-up, majority shareholders LRM and Vesalius Biocapital have invested EUR 40 million in the company.
Today, Stéphane Verdood of Vesalius Biocapital is pleased to announce the sale, expecting it to drive the development of Apitope’s promising research pipeline.
“The combination of Apitope’s innovative programs and Worg’s drug development expertise will maximize our potential and address significant unmet medical needs.”
Stéphane Verdood, Managing Partner at Vesalius Biocapital
Great minds think alike
Over the years, Apitope has built a robust development pipeline of potential first-in-class antigen-specific immunotherapies targeting the immunological basis of autoimmune diseases. These diseases include multiple sclerosis (MS), uveitis (an inflammation of the eye), Graves' disease (a thyroid gland disease) and Factor VIII intolerance (a chronic bleeding disorder). The company’s novel discovery platform enables the identification and selection of highly specific epitopes which reinstate immune tolerance, known as ‘apitopes®’.
According to Worg CEO Andrew Xu, the acquisition will jump-start Worg’s existing immunotherapy pipeline, which is based on the same core immunology knowledge as Apitope’s. “The assets we will acquire fit well with our business strategy by overlapping with our current business in allergy immunotherapies.”
“We are pleased to take the lead in these innovative immunotherapies and bring new treatment options to patients.”
Andrew Xu, CEO of Worg
Apitope, who successfully raised EUR 12 million from the Wales Life Sciences Fund in 2015, has been looking for another pharmaceutical partner to support and co-finance its extensive patient trials. That was the opportunity for Worg Pharma to propose a buyout.
The shareholders decided to accept the buyout, rather than continue independently with all the risks that entails. It is still unclear what the takeover will mean for Apitope’s site in Flanders.
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