BioLineRx (BLRX) Enters In-Licensing Agreement for Anti-Inflammatory DES Treatment

November 21, 2016 7:06 AM EST

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BioLineRx Ltd. (Nasdaq: BLRX) announced that it has signed an exclusive, worldwide agreement with Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd., for the in-licensing of a novel anti-inflammatory treatment for Dry Eye Syndrome (DES). This project, to be named BL-1230, is the third project in-licensed under the framework of the Company's strategic collaboration with Novartis Pharma AG for the screening and development of novel drug candidates.

DES is one of the most prevalent ophthalmic medical conditions, particularly in the elderly, affecting up to 30% of the global population aged 50 years and above, with around 40 million people affected in the US alone. The condition leads to discomfort, inflammation and pain. Currently, treatment options are very limited, and include constant rehydration with artificial tears and local immunosuppressants.

BL-1230 is a potent and selective cannabinoid receptor type 2 (CB2R) agonist developed by Professor Raphael Mechoulam from the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products at the Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University. The involvement of CB2R in immune modulation is well established, and pre-clinical studies in three ocular inflammatory models have demonstrated that BL-1230 eye drops have significant anti-inflammatory activity, which attenuates the pathology and improves histological outcomes. In addition to DES, BioLineRx intends to explore the potential use of this compound in systemic inflammatory conditions.

"BL-1230 is an additional project in our growing immunology portfolio and already the third project in-licensed under the Company's exciting strategic collaboration with Novartis for the screening and development of novel drug candidates," commented Philip Serlin, Chief Executive Officer, BioLineRx. "Inflammation is recognized as both a cause and consequence of DES and is a primary target in assessment and clinical treatment. BL-1230 not only targets inflammation via an immunomodulatory pathway that differs from current treatment options, but also may induce analgesic effects. We therefore hope that this drug will have a beneficial therapeutic effect as compared to available treatments."

In December 2014, BioLineRx and Novartis Pharma AG entered into a multi-year strategic collaboration to facilitate development and commercialization of Israeli-sourced drug candidates. Leveraging BioLineRx's close and long-lasting ties with academic institutions, hospitals and biomedical companies in Israel, as well as its proven project screening process and development expertise, Novartis continues to evaluate projects identified and presented by BioLineRx for co-development and potential future licensing under the collaboration. The companies intend to co-develop a number of pre-clinical and early clinical therapeutic projects through clinical proof-of-concept. As part of the agreement, Novartis made an equity investment in BioLineRx of $10 million.

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