Biovitrum Acquires the Pharmaceutical Company Arexis

Stockholm, SWEDEN

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 22, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- Biovitrum expands the project portfolio with projects in clinical phase, both I and II, together with additional preclinical projects within its prioritised therapeutic areas by the acquisition of Arexis, a company that develops pharmaceuticals for the treatment of metabolic and inflammatory diseases.

Biovitrum acquires Arexis, a privately owned Swedish biotech and pharmaceutical company with an extensive portfolio of projects in preclinical and clinical phases, founded in 1999 and located in Gothenburg. Arexis is specialised in the development of pharmaceuticals for the treatment of metabolic and inflammatory diseases, e. g. lipid malabsorption, diabetes, atopic dermatitis (inflammatory skin disease) and rheumatoid arthritis.

Through Arexis several projects in, or near, clinical development phase are made available to Biovitrum as well as valuable research and development competence within important therapeutic areas. Arexis and Biovitrum share common grounds and there is an excellent industrial fit between the companies.

The acquisition of Arexis takes place by means of a combination of payments in cash and in shares in a model of an initial up-front payment and later milestones connected to achieved clinical and commercial results. The parties have agreed not to disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Of the extensive project portfolio Arexis' recombinant BSSL (rBSSL) can be mentioned. BSSL (bile salt-stimulated lipase) is a naturally occurring human enzyme with a key function to degrade a large spectrum of lipids in food. The enzyme is produced in the mature, healthy pancreas and is also present in mother's milk. Arexis has today two projects with rBSSL; one for patients suffering from cystic fibrosis and one relating to preterm infants.

The positive effect of rBSSL in the treatment of intestinal lipid malabsorption has been documented in two phase II studies on patients with cystic fibrosis and the next step is to perform a phase IIB study. The majority of patients with cystic fibrosis lack important digestive enzymes, including BSSL, causing reduced ability to absorb essential nutrients in food. Human rBSSL has been granted Orphan Drug status in the EU and is expected to be granted that also in the US.

Recombinant BSSL has a potential to become a constituent in new products for preterm infants. BSSL is present in mother's milk and of importance for the digestion of triglycerides and polyunsaturated fatty acids in newborn children. Preterm infants are often dependent on banked breast milk, in which BSSL is inactivated through the pasteurization process with an impaired fat uptake as a result.

For pharmaceutical manufacturing recombinant human BSSL will be produced in cell cultures and the finished product will be possible to take orally. Biovitrum has long and extensive know how and experience in developing processes for the production of recombinant protein drugs.

-- Arexis and Biovitrum match each other uncommonly well with respect to prioritised therapeutic areas but also concerning recombinant proteins where Biovitrum has internationally recognized expertise within both development and production. We look forward to incorporate and work with Arexis in the Biovitrum Group. Arexis provides several interesting projects in addition to BSSL. With our united forces we have all that it takes to drive these projects to a successful launch on the market, says Mats Pettersson, CEO of Biovitrum.

-- Arexis and our strong project portfolio takes a leapfrog into a highly competitive industrial setting. We will enjoy strong synergies with the combined competencies of Biovitrum, thus enhancing the probability of successful product launches, says Lennart Hansson, CEO of Arexis. The main shareholders in Arexis AB and sellers are 3i Group Plc, Beijer Investors, Industrifonden, InnovationsKapital and SEB Foretagsinvest.

Biovitrum acquired earlier this year Cambridge Biotechnology (CBT) that is advancing, among others, a clinical phase I project on inflammation and pain.


Biovitrum is one of the largest biotech companies in Europe, with operations in Stockholm and Uppsala in Sweden and in Cambridge in the UK. Biovitrum combines research and development with commercial operations. R&D focuses on the research and development of new pharmaceuticals for treatment of obesity, diabetes and inflammation as well as within the therapeutic areas of oncology and glaucoma. Biovitrum Biopharmaceuticals develops and produces protein-based drugs on a contractual basis. Biovitrum also markets a number of specialist pharmaceuticals primarily in the Nordic countries. Within Biovitrum approximately 300 employees work within R&D and about 200 in Biopharmaceuticals and Marketing and Sales of specialist pharmaceuticals. For more information see


Arexis AB is an emerging pharmaceutical company operating in custom-designed laboratories in the newly built Biotech Center in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company's research is biology-driven with proprietary technology and a strong focus on product development within the areas of metabolic and inflammatory diseases. Common for these areas is large unmet medical needs and partly unknown disease causes. Arexis' concept of forward genetics in extensively validated disease models is used for high-resolution molecular dissection of causative disease mechanisms. This research strategy is the key to more effective development of novel therapies. Arexis' management has extensive experience from the international pharmaceutical industry as well as from smaller biotechnology companies. For more information see

Biovitrum AB

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