CSL Ltd and Opsona in R&D collaboration targeting infectious diseases and oncology


DUBLIN, Ireland - 22nd February 2009

Opsona Therapeutics,  the biotechnology company focused on novel therapeutic and preventative approaches to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, today announced that it has signed a research and collaboration agreement with the global specialty biopharmaceutical company CSL Limited.  

The collaboration covers the identification of novel vaccine adjuvant formulations, based on Opsona's proprietary technology OpsoVacTM which could target infectious diseases and certain cancers.

Under the agreement Opsona will receive undisclosed upfront payments and will be eligible for additional milestone and royalty payments should CSL elect to pursue formulations that result from the collaboration.

Mark Heffernan, CEO of Opsona said, "CSL has an excellent track record in the field of vaccines and today's announcement is a significant validation of the OpsoVacTM technology. OpsoVacTM has the potential to significantly improve the efficacy of immunotherapy against tumors and of vaccine-induced protective immunity against infection."

The OpsoVacTM technology was exclusively licensed to Opsona from Trinity College, Dublin (TCD), where it was discovered by Professor Kingston Mills, Head of the School of Biochemistry and Immunology, and a co-founder of Opsona. Prof. Mills has identified a novel Toll-like Receptor (TLR) platform involving the co-administration of a TLR agonist with molecules that inhibit T-regulatory cells. Depletion of T-regulatory cells has been shown to enhance anti-tumour immunity in disease models.

Dr. Andrew Cuthbertson CSL CSO, said, "CSL is a leading innovator in the development of vaccines and approaches to immunotherapy. Inhibition of T-regulatory cells is a promising approach to enhancing the effectiveness of both cancer immuno-therapeutics and vaccines against chronic infectious diseases such as hepatitis and influenza, and we look forward to working with Opsona in this important area."

Earlier this week, Opsona announced the completion of an €18m fundraising supported by Novartis Venture Fund, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Inventages Venture Capital and Seroba Kernel. The company has also recently announced a new facility in Switzerland that complements the existing team and activity in Dublin.

About OpsoVacTM                                                                                            

Increased Efficacy and Antigen Sparing of Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics

Toll like Receptor (TLR) agonists, such as CpG, are highly potent adjuvants in clinical development as immunotherapies for cancer, vaccines against infectious disease and therapies for asthma/allergy. They act by promoting innate inflammatory responses and Th1 responses to co-administered antigens. Significantly, a number of these potential treatments have met with limited success through lack of clinical outcome. In addition, there is a need to reduce the doses of costly antigens required for infectious disease and cancer vaccines.

TCD and Opsona scientists have discovered that contrary to current dogma, TLR ligands additionally promote the induction of anti-inflammatory mediators and regulatory T cells. The induction of regulatory T cells and anti-inflammatory mediators, such as IL-10, TGF-b and PGE2, can exacerbate the immunosuppressive conditions in patients with cancer or chronic infections, and thus effectively counteract the advantageous TLR-induced boost in immune response. 

By identifying and blocking the signalling pathways leading to the induction of innate anti-inflammatory mediators and consequently regulatory T cells, we are able to significantly improve the efficacy of TLR agonists. We have demonstrated proof-of-principle in pre-clinical models using TLR agonist-activated dendritic cell immunotherapy against certain resistant cancers and also protective immunity induced with a vaccine against Bordetella pertussis, the causal agent of whooping cough.

Opsona has exclusively licensed the technology from TCD and is seeking to develop OpsoVac through high-profile collaboration with specialist vaccine and immunotherapy companies.

About CSL

With major facilities in Australia, Germany, Switzerland and the US, CSL has over 9,000 employees working in 27 countries. The CSL Group has a combined heritage of outstanding contribution to medicine and human health with more than 90 years experience in the development and manufacture of vaccines and plasma protein biotherapies.


For further information on Opsona please contact:

Email: info@opsona.com

For Media Queries Please Contact:
Niamh Lyons
Tel: + 353 1 6633602
Jonathan Birt
Tel: + 44 20 72697205