Biogen, Inc. (NASDAQ/BGEN) and NsGene A/S, a private Danish biotechnology company, today announced that Biogen has exercised its option to license Neublastin, a novel neurotrophic protein, from NsGene A/S. This license expands upon the research and option agreement between the two companies announced earlier this year by NsGene.

Under the terms of the expanded agreement, Biogen will pay NsGene an upfront fee. If a product based on Neublastin is successfully developed and commercialized by Biogen, NsGene will, in addition to royalties, receive at least $20 million in fees and milestone payments over the course of the license agreement. Further financial details were not disclosed. Per the expanded agreement, Biogen will obtain the rights to pursue research, development, and commercialization of therapies based on Neublastin for all indications in the peripheral nervous system. In general, NsGene retains rights to central nervous system indications.

James C. Mullen, Biogen’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are pleased to expand our relationship with NsGene, a promising young European biotechnology company. Neublastin is an important addition to our expanding product pipeline because it reflects our commitment to developing disease-modifying therapies in the focus area of neurodegeneration. In less than two years, Neublastin has progressed from a raw gene sequence to an attractive therapeutic target supported by positive data in animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. The speed with which Biogen accomplished these tasks underscores our core research strength, namely the rapid discovery of new drug candidates by capitalizing on our biology expertise to accelerate the elucidation of gene function.

Teit E. Johansen, Ph.D., the President and CEO of NsGene, said: “Execution of this license agreement is a key event for NsGene, and we are happy to continue and expand our collaboration with Biogen. We are excited about the accumulating positive data on Neublastin obtained at both Biogen and NsGene. These data demonstrate that Neublastin has great potential to become a treatment for both central and peripheral nervous system disorders. The continuation of the fruitful collaborative research efforts around the basic biology of Neublastin benefits both companies, even though NsGene and Biogen are pursuing different clinical targets for Neublastin.

Neublastin is a new research program at Biogen. Current data suggest that it may have a protective and regenerative role in the central and peripheral nervous systems and, as a result, may be useful as a therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative disorders. The protein is a growth factor belonging to the GDNF group of the TGF beta superfamily and was discovered by NsGene. It is the ligand for the GFR-alpha3 (RetL3) receptor, which was discovered by Biogen scientists.

In addition to historical information, this press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Reference is made in particular to statements regarding the potential for Neublastin as a therapeutic product. These statements are based on the Company’s current beliefs and expectations as to such future outcomes. Drug development involves a high degree of risk. Success at the research stage does not ensure that pre-clinical work or human clinical trials will be successful. Factors which could cause actual results to differ materially from the Company’s current expectations include the risk that the product may not show therapeutic effect or an acceptable safety profile in humans or may not meet applicable regulatory standards, or that problems or delays may otherwise arise during research work, pre-clinical studies, clinical trials or in the course of the development, testing or manufacturing of the product.

Biogen, Inc., winner of the U.S. National Medal of Technology, is a biopharmaceutical company principally engaged in discovering and developing drugs for human healthcare through genetic engineering. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, the Company’s revenues are generated from international sales of AVONEX® (Interferon beta-1a) for treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis, and from the worldwide sales by licensees of a number of products, including alpha interferon and hepatitis B vaccines and diagnostic products ( Prescribing Information ). Biogen’s research and development activities are focused on novel products to treat inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, neurological diseases, cancer, fibrosis and congestive heart failure. The Company maintains active clinical research programs in protein therapeutics, small molecules, genomics and gene therapy. For copies of press releases and additional information about the Company, please consult Biogen’s Homepage on the World Wide Web at

NsGene A/S ( is a privately held Danish biotechnology company dedicated to developing cell and gene-based therapies for the treatment of CNS disorders. The Company has formed strong commercial and academic collaborations with the Wallenberg Neuroscience Center at Lund University (Sweden), leader in the field of neural transplantation. In late 1999, NsGene was spun out of NeuroSearch A/S (, a Danish pharmaceutical company traded on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange (NEUS.CO). NeuroSearch owns 28% of the shares in NsGene; other larger shareholders are Danish and Swedish institutional investors.