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Hey there, Alex Haahr Gouliaev

Alex Haahr Gouliaev

Nordic Life Science asked the CEO of Nuevolution about the offer from Amgen to buy Nuevolution for $166.8 million.

Nuevolution’s pipeline and selective deal-making approach has recently proven to be both solid and successful, with presentations of progress in multiple projects, and last week, Amgen made an offer.

What’s your comment about the Amgen offer?

“The offer from Amgen follows a successful collaboration between Nuevolution and Amgen which started in October 2016. During the collaboration, Amgen has realized that Nuevolution is a strong and skilled partner for drug discovery of small molecules. Not only due to Nuevolution’s technology platform, but also because of the way we deploy it throughout the process from identification of early (hit) compounds to nomination of mature development candidates (candidates). The Nuevolution team has shown high dedication in the collaborative projects and delivered high quality results and fast, which is the result of a collective team’s effort on all posts at Nuevolution.”

If the transaction goes through, what will happen to Nuevolution and its employees?

“Going forward and provided that the transaction goes through, Amgen wishes to keep Nuevolution in its strongest setup, and Nuevolution will play a key role together with our many coming colleagues at Amgen. We will join efforts in discovery of small molecule (tablet) based medicines, where Nuevolution will continue its operations from Copenhagen, whereabout 50 people from about 10 countries are working today.”

What’s your reactions to the offer?

“Personally, I am excited about this opportunity, and I  think that we should collectively be proud about this. It is the result of many people’s effort and professional and private investor’s support over many years.”

Facts Nuevolution

The biopharmaceutical company Nuevolution was founded in 2001, and has the goal to deliver medicines for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases. Their business model has a primary focus on monetization and risk minimization, achieved through several internal programs developed in parallel with each other. The company’s headquarters are located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Nuevolution AB is listed on NASDAQ Stockholm and has about 40 employees.

Expanded patent portfolio

Last week, Nuevolution also announced that it acquired all rights to a series of patents claiming priority from Danish application PA 2004 01809. The ownership of the patents has previously been disputed, where both Nuevolution and Henrik Pedersen and his company Chemgene ApS have claimed to be the rightful owner of the entire patent family.

All rights to the patent family have been assigned to Nuevolution against payment of total 200,000 DKK to Henrik Pedersen and his company Chemgene ApS.

In connection with the agreement between the parties, the parties have waived all claims against the other party in the on-going litigation concerning ownership etc. at the Maritime and Commercial High Court, which therefore ceases now.

Photo of Alex Haahr Gouliaev: Thomas Rønn

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Highlights 2018-2019

In a previous issue (No 02 2019) we asked Alex Haahr Gouliaev about Nuevolution’s ongoing activities, including its other partnership projects.

Looking back at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, what were Nuevolution’s highlights?

“The year ended with significant progress – not the least from existing partnerships. Amgen has now exercised its Opt-In right twice, and our development partner Almirall has completed a set of further studies seeking to confirm that the partnership can bring forward a truly best-in-class program. Research delivered a shower of successes during 2018. On top of the achievements in the partnerships mentioned, work was completed to nominate the development candidate in the bromodomain BET BD1 selective inhibitor program (inflammation). The internal RORγt program showed good efficacy data in an important animal model of IBD, and novel attractive backup compounds have been identified within this program. Very promising data has also been disclosed for our topical IL-17A small molecule inhibitor – a truly unique program! Finally, but not the least, two new programs (RIPK1 and TYK2) have shown promising results during the second half of the year adding to the list of future opportunities for the company.”

You also recently announced an important milestone in the Almirall collaboration. Explain more about this?

“The progression of our RORγt collaboration with Almirall has been going very well, and in accordance with the mutually agreed work plan and with the joint strategy of moving forward only a truly best-in-class compound for potential clinical testing in patients with moderate-to-severe psoriasis. We received a preclinical key milestone of MSEK 10.5 (EUR 1 million) for documenting very strong properties for the program following successful completion of significant preclinical research studies, and internal and external reviews with positive outcome. For Nuevolution, it provides strong comfort that the program is developed by a very experienced research and development team. Altogether we consider this a strong testament to the uniqueness and potential of the Nuevolution-Almirall program.”

What’s next in this collaboration?

“It has been imperative to both parties that a best-in-class compound combines both maximum treatment efficacy and the best possible safety properties prior to commencing first-in-human clinical trials. A significant part of the collaboration work has been to evaluate preclinical safety parameters for RORγt inhibition and to comprehensively de-risk a program candidate compound prior to any human testing. The recent program data for the candidate compound supports a program in line with the best-in-class program goal. The next steps for the program will be completion of the work towards first-in-man studies.”

What are your hopes and expectations for the rest of 2019?

“It is our goal to continue the collaborations and progress that we have seen in our existing partner collaborations, with the aim of further progressing the Almirall program toward human trials and to progress the Amgen collaboration into more programs and towards candidate nomination. We will maintain our “selective” deal-making approach to reach agreements of high value to both the partner, Nuevolution and our investors. We can confirm that discussions remain on-going along the partnering strategy as communicated most recent in our Q4 interim report, and we remain confident in the execution of one or more new partnerships. Finally, we maintain our focus on progressing our internal programs forward, along with building our early pipeline based on our technology platform.”

This interview was published in Nordic Life Science No 02 2019