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Benchmark Secures License for Canine Atopic Dermatitis Vaccine

10 November 2015

UK - Benchmark Holdings is pleased to announce that it has secured an exclusive worldwide licensing deal for a state-of-the-art Canine Atopic Dermatitis vaccine.

Benchmark secured the license from Saiba Animal Health GmbH. The license extends for the life of the patents and thereafter for 20 years on a non-exclusive basis, giving Benchmark the rights to develop and commercialise a recombinant vaccine for Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD) using Virus Like-Particle (VLP) technology.

This ground-breaking technology, for which patents have been filed, will induce antibodies against specific naturally occurring cytokines known to be implicated in the development of the disease.

This VLP technology is similar to that used in Hypocat, another of Benchmark's innovative companion animal vaccines currently under development.

Benchmark has agreed to pay Saiba an upfront fee of £200,000, a further £200,000 to fund the development, and has an option to take a licence for £100,000 if the development is proven successful.

The Company will also pay against achievement of further milestones an amount of up to £500,000.

Benchmark will pay royalties to Saiba on sales of the vaccine. The vaccine would be manufactured at Benchmark's own state-of-the-art vaccine production facilities in the UK, and if the development is successful it is expected that the vaccine would be brought to market in 2019.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD) is one of the most common canine skin diseases and a leading welfare concern, affecting 10 to 15 per cent of the US, Canadian and European dog populations.

The condition stems from a genetic predisposition to develop allergic symptoms following exposure to substances that are usually harmless, but trigger an allergic response. Two of the most common allergens are dust mites and pollen, which are difficult for pets to avoid.

The most common symptoms of canine atopic dermatitis include itching, excessive scratching, rubbing on the carpet, hair loss, greasy or flaky skin with a foul odour, excessive chewing on the paws and areas such as the groin and armpits.

Over time, the skin that is scratched can develop raw, inflamed areas that may become infected.

Once dogs develop pet atopy they usually suffer more and more each year because their skin becomes more sensitive over time. Therefore, what may start out as canine atopic dermatitis only in the Spring and Autumn can become a year-round problem as dogs age and skin becomes increasingly sensitive.

Investment in the vaccine supports Benchmark's strategy of driving innovation in the fields of animal health and welfare, while reducing global reliance on antibiotics which are commonly used to treat the secondary effects of the disease. With an estimated 152 million dogs in the US, Canada and Europe, the estimated total market value for treatment of the disease is over £1 billion per annum.

Unlike other CAD treatments on the market such as steroids, antihistamines and immuno-suppressants, which typically require continuous application and in some cases can weaken the dog's immune system, this new vaccine would reduce the need for intervention and lessen the animals' susceptibility to infection and illness. The vaccine is expected to require three initial injections, followed by an annual booster.

Martin Bachmann, Saiba Animal Health CEO, commented: "I am very pleased with this deal as it demonstrates the power of Saiba's novel vaccine technology."

Benchmark CEO, Malcolm Pye, commented: "We are pleased to be leveraging our expertise and relationships in the field of VLP technology to tackle another major challenge facing the animal health industry. We are looking forward to developing the technology needed to better manage this widespread problem affecting dogs and their owners. Benchmark is always looking for new opportunities to apply our experience and capabilities to better the health and welfare of animals."



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