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Bionomics Limited (ASX:BNO) Merck Serono Extends MS Collaboration with Bionomics

-   Research term extended, signalling progress in multiple sclerosis program
- Collaboration uses Bionomics' proprietary chemistry platform MultiCore  and ion channel drug discovery expertise
-  Further extensions of Development and License Agreement possible beyond June 2012
9 June 2011; Adelaide, Australia: The Bionomics Limited (ASX: BNO) multiple sclerosis (MS) drug research program has been extended by at least another year with its collaboration partner Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
Under the terms of the amendment to the 2008 Development and License Agreement the Initial Research Term is extended for a further year. Merck Serono and Bionomics also recognise that further extensions of the collaboration may occur beyond 13 June 2012.
Merck Serono is actively developing potential new treatments for MS and other autoimmune conditions based on compounds from the Bionomics Kv1.3 program. The R&D collaboration brings together Bionomics' expertise in Kv1.3 biology and Merck Serono's expertise in MS pharmacology, clinical development and commercialization.
Dr Deborah Rathjen CEO & Managing Director of Bionomics said the collaboration has been working well. "The extension is a clear signal of progress towards a potential new treatment for multiple sclerosis. Merck Serono is a world leader and pioneer in treatments for MS and we are pleased that our collaboration with Merck Serono continues to grow."
Under the 2008 agreement, Bionomics received an upfront payment of US$2 million and committed research funding that has now been extended under the current amendment. Merck Serono will fund all development, including clinical development of drug candidates. For each compound that is successfully developed and commercialized as a result of the partnership, Bionomics may receive milestone payments of up to US$47 million and will be eligible to receive undisclosed royalties on the net sales of licensed products.
The compounds licensed from Bionomics by Merck Serono target the potassium ion channel Kv1.3, a key modulator of the immune system and a target found on human immune cells which are associated with nerve cell damage in patients with MS. Inhibitors of Kv1.3 have been shown to inhibit the proliferation of these immune cells, suggesting they have application in the treatment of MS and potentially other autoimmune conditions, including  arthritis.
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