Helvetic BioPharma (Switzerland) estimates that 70,000 people suffer from age-related macular degeneration in Iran, the leading cause of blindness. This deal with Xbrane in Stockholm (Sweden) will debut a biosimilar therapy that could really tackle this problem.
Xbrane itself is a Swedish biopharma with links to Italy (after an acquisition of the Italian Primm Pharma in October). The company focus is developing its patented protein production using E.coli to produce biosimilars with superior efficiency. It also investigates and develops biodegradable polymer ‘microspheres’ for more controlled release of these drugs.
Xlucane is Xbrane’s biosimilar version of Lucentis (which contains the active substance Ranibizumab) and is used primarily for the treatment of the wet form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye disease that leads to impaired vision, and in worst case blindness.
Patents for Lucentis in the US and EU expire 2020 and 2022 respectively, while the drug lacks patent protection in many emerging markets, including Iran. However, the world’s first Ranibizumab biosimilar was actually recently introduced by Intas Pharmaceuticals in India (read our review on the ‘Battle of Biosimilars’