Acquisition of Lymphatix Brings VEGF Gene Rights and Technology to Catalyse Ark's Gene-Based Medicine Programmes
LONDON, Jan. 8, 2008 - Ark Therapeutics Group plc ('Ark' or 'the Company') announces that it has agreed to acquire Helsinki-based company Lymphatix Oy in an all share transaction equivalent to a purchase price of Euros 2.25 million. The acquisition gives Ark royalty-free exploitation rights to the vascular endothelial growth factor genes known as VEGF-D and VEGF-C for developing gene-based medicines in the angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis areas. Ark already has VEGF-based programmes in pre-clinical development in these areas, notably refractory angina, wound healing, prevention of restenosis and foetal growth restriction. Results to date have shown that VEGF plays a key role in these diseases.
Ark will incorporate the VEGF portfolio secured with this acquisition alongside other genes including its own VEGF mutants, to optimise therapies prior to commencing clinical testing. The gene medicines will be developed and tested by Ark in the already-established adenoviral vector platforms successfully utilised by Trinam(R), which contains the VEGF-D long form and is now in Phase III clinical studies, and by Cerepro(R), also in Phase III, in disease models at its facilities in Kuopio, Finland.
Lymphatix was founded in 2003 by the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Licentia Ltd/Helsinki University and a number of Finnish and Australian academics, including Associate Professor Marc Achen, Professor Kari Alitalo, Dr Marika Karkkainen, Associate Professor Steven Stacker and Professor Seppo Yla-Herttuala, who are together the selling shareholders.
The consideration is in the form of 1,733,657 new ordinary shares of 1 pence each in the capital of Ark (the 'Consideration Shares'). Application is being made to the UK Listing Authority for admission of the Consideration Shares to the Official List and to trading on the London Stock Exchange. It is expected that admission will become effective and dealings in such shares will commence on or after 11 January 2008.
Following admission of the Consideration Shares, the total number of ordinary shares in the capital of the Company with voting rights will be 203,672,626.
Dr Nigel Parker, Chief Executive Officer of Ark, commented: 'This is a highly targeted acquisition of specific technology which is well known to us. As well as securing our position in this key field, the rights to exploit these genes will give us the ability to optimise the constructs we take forward for the next generation of gene-based medicines. In the case of our refractory angina programme, it could well be a catalyst to move us into the first clinical study faster than we had previously anticipated.'
For further information please contact:
Ark Therapeutics Group plc +44 (0)20 7388 7722 Dr Nigel Parker, Chief Executive Officer Martyn Williams, Chief Financial Officer
Financial Dynamics +44 (0)20 7831 3113 David Yates/Lara Mott
Notes to Editors
Ark Therapeutics Group plc
Ark Therapeutics Group plc is a specialist healthcare group (the 'Group') addressing high value areas of unmet medical need within vascular disease, wound care and cancer. These are large and growing markets, where opportunities exist for effective new products to generate significant revenues. With three marketed devices, Kerraboot(R), Flaminal(R) and Kerraped(R) and three further lead pharmaceutical products in late stage clinical development: Cerepro(R), VitorTM, and Trinam(R), the Group is transitioning from an R&D company to a commercial, revenue generating business.
Ark's own products are sourced from related but largely non-dependent technologies within the Group and have been selected to enable them to be taken through development within the Group's own means and to benefit from Orphan Drug Status and/or Fast Track Designation, as appropriate. This strategy has allowed the Group to retain greater value and greater control of clinical development timelines, and to mitigate the risks of dependency on any one particular programme or development partner. Ark has secured patents or has patent applications pending for all its lead products in principal pharmaceutical markets.
Ark has its origins in businesses established in the mid-1990s by Professor John Martin and Mr Stephen Barker of University College London and Professor Seppo Yla-Herttuala of the AI Virtanen Institute at the University of Kuopio, Finland, all of whom play leading roles in the Company's research and development programmes.
Ark's shares were first listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2004 (AKT.L).
This announcement includes 'forward-looking statements' which include all statements other than statements of historical facts, including, without limitation, those regarding the Group's financial position, business strategy, plans and objectives of management for future operations (including development plans and objectives relating to the Group's products and services), and any statements preceded by, followed by or that include forward-looking terminology such as the words 'targets', 'believes', 'estimates', 'expects', 'aims', 'intends', 'will', 'can', 'may', 'anticipates', 'would', 'should', 'could' or similar expressions or the negative thereof. Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors beyond the Group's control that could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Group to be materially different from future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such forward-looking statements are based on numerous assumptions regarding the Group's present and future business strategies and the environment in which the Group will operate in the future. Among the important factors that could cause the Group's actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements include those relating to Ark's funding requirements, regulatory approvals, clinical trials, reliance on third parties, intellectual property, key personnel and other factors. These forward-looking statements speak only as at the date of this announcement. The Group expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to disseminate any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained in this announcement to reflect any change in the Group's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statements are based. As a result of these factors, readers are cautioned not to rely on any forward-looking statement.
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from the London Stock Exchange END
Posted: January 2008