NEW HAVEN, Conn.,Oct. 3, 2016 — Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd. (“Biohaven” or the “Company”) today announced it has acquired the rights from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, to develop and commercialize certain glutamate modulating agents in the treatment of cancer.
Research at Rutgers and elsewhere has established a role of glutamate receptor signaling in the growth and spread of multiple tumor types (including melanoma skin cancer, glioma, breast cancer, and prostate cancer), indicating that genes encoding for glutamate receptors can function as oncogenes. Glutamine, an essential amino acid, has also been demonstrated to play a central role in tumor cell metabolism. A variety of solid malignancies have been shown to overexpress enzymes that convert glutamine to glutamate, further emphasizing the role of the glutamate in some cancers. Additionally, preclinical studies show that modulating glutamate receptors may prevent tumor growth and render tumors more sensitive to chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This suggests that the combination of glutamate modulating agents with conventional treatments or emerging immunotherapies may enhance patient outcomes.
Dr. Vlad Coric, M.D., CEO at Biohaven commented, “We are very pleased to be able to expand our strategic partnerships and enter into this license agreement with Rutgers. Biohaven continues to follow the science of glutamate modulation across therapeutic indications, and will also collaborate with investigators at Rutgers to pursue clinical studies with our portfolio of glutamate modulators as adjunctive treatment in patients suffering from melanoma. We are committed to the research and development of innovative medicines that will benefit patients with serious diseases.”
The license agreement between Rutgers and Biohaven represents the culmination of several years of collaborative work between a basic scientist, Dr. Suzie Chen at Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy at Rutgers and a surgeon, Dr. James Goydos who is the Melanoma Program Section Chief at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. The work between Drs. Chen and Goydos advanced results from preclinical laboratory-based studies and translated those findings into the clinic to pursue better treatments for patients.
Dr. Robert Berman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Biohaven, commented “The line of investigation from Rutgers University researchers Drs. Suzie Chen and Jim Goydos has presented a compelling mechanistic rationale to assess Biohaven’s portfolio of glutamate modulators in the treatment of melanoma. We are excited to build on their work and advance our compounds for clinical testing in the treatment of cancer.”
Melanoma is a form of skin cancer characterized by the uncontrolled growth of pigment-producing cells (melanocytes) located in the skin. Metastatic melanoma is the deadliest form of the disease, and occurs when cancer spreads beyond the surface of the skin to the other organs, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, brain or other areas of the body. Melanoma is mostly curable when treated in its early stages. However, in its late stages, the average five-year survival rate is 15% – 20%.
Biohaven is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company with particular expertise in late stage clinical development and has portfolio of multiple late stage drug assets. Biohaven has licensed intellectual property from Yale University, Catalent, ALS Biopharma LLC, Massachusetts General Hospital and now Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Biohaven recently entered into an alliance with Kleo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to develop small molecule, immune based therapeutics called Antibody Recruiting Molecules (ARMs) and Synthetic Antibody Mimics (SyAMS). The company has advanced multiple candidates into the clinic and plans on pivotal trials beginning late 2016. Biohaven is owned by a group of investors including Yale University, Portage Biotech Inc. (OTC Market: PTGEF, Canadian Securities Exchange: PBT.U), John W. Childs and other private investors. Further information regarding Biohaven can be found at: http://biohavenpharma.com
This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal and Canadian securities laws. These forward-looking statements involve substantial risks and uncertainties, including statements that are based on the current expectations and assumptions of the Company’s management. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, included in this press release regarding the Company’s plans and objectives, expectations and assumptions of management are forward-looking statements. The use of certain words, including the words “estimate,” “project,” “intend,” “expect,” “believe,” “anticipate,” “will, “plan,” “could,” “may” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The Company may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations disclosed in the forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on the Company’s forward-looking statements. Various important factors could cause actual results or events to differ materially from those that may be expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements including receipt of regulatory approvals and market conditions. The forward-looking statements are made as of this date and the Company does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Dr. Vlad Coric
Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd.