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Benchmark Hlgs PLC (BMK)


Wednesday 31 August, 2016

Benchmark Hlgs PLC

Benchmark secures innovative new equine vaccine

RNS Number : 4802I
Benchmark Holdings PLC
31 August 2016

RNS Reach

Benchmark Holdings plc

("Benchmark" or "the Company")

Benchmark secures innovative new equine vaccine

Benchmark is pleased to announce that its Animal Health division has entered into an agreement with Evax AG ("Evax"), a Swiss equine biotech company, to develop a recombinant vaccine to prevent and treat the most prevalent skin disease in horses, Sweet Itch, also known as Insect Bite Hypersensitivity (IBH). 

Sweet Itch is caused by an allergic immune response to Culicoides midge saliva. The disease poses a significant welfare challenge for horses through intense itching and biting which causes inflammation and often breaks the skin, allowing infection to set in. It affects 7.5% of the global horse population; the estimated total market value for treatment of the disease is over £100 million per annum.

There is currently no efficacious preventative treatment or licensed vaccine available for controlling Sweet Itch in horses.  The new vaccine utilises a Virus Like Particle technology (VLP), to which is attached a specific equine cytokine known to be implicated in this allergic disease. It combines the best of human science, cutting-edge technology and veterinary medicine to improve the quality of life of horses and horse owners.  The Company expects the first commercialised product to be made available for the European, US and Canadian markets by 2020-21, followed by other markets.

Under the terms of the agreement, Benchmark will pay total consideration of £1.12m and is contributing up to a further £4m over the next 4 years towards development, which will be conducted part in-house and part externally.  Evax has granted Benchmark worldwide rights for sales, distribution and manufacturing of the product (excluding Switzerland) with royalties on net sales.  Manufacturing will be performed at Benchmark's state-of-the-art Braintree site.

The agreement adds a new product to the Company's vaccine portfolio and strengthens Benchmark's position to become a leader in providing veterinary allergy solutions for companion animals.

Malcolm Pye, Chief Executive of Benchmark commented:

"We are delighted to be partnering with such a highly-regarded team to develop this much needed solution for an issue which currently has no licensed vaccine treatment available. We continue to invest in cutting-edge technologies and are seeing further benefits from our investment in vaccine manufacturing at Braintree, where much of the development and all of the manufacturing for this vaccine will take place.

"Our ability to collaborate with other teams in this technology space will enhance our own offering, both in the breadth of products we can provide and in improving the efficacy of our products currently in development."


-           ENDS -


Benchmark Holdings plc

Tel: +44 (0)1142 409939

Malcolm Pye, CEO

Roland Bonney, COO

Rachel Aninakwah, Communications




Tel: +44 (0)2072 601000

Michael Meade/Freddie Barnfield (NOMAD)

James Black / Tom Ballard (Corporate Broking)


Tel: +44 (0)2079 203150

Matt Ridsdale/Niall Walsh


Notes to editors:

Founded in 2000, Benchmark has built a profitable group of companies on the economics of a sustainable food chain. The Company is growing in response to a rapidly increasing demand for sustainable food chains, and in particular for seafood, from both mature and emerging markets.

The Group has five divisions: Breeding & Genetics, which comprises a world-leading Salmon and aquaculture breeding business; Advanced Animal Nutrition, which provides cutting edge nutritional products and services to the aquaculture industry; Animal Health, which researches, manufactures and markets medicines and vaccines particularly for aquaculture; Sustainable Science, which researches and informs sustainable development in the food industry; and Technical Publishing, which effects technology transfer through online publishing and education. Through Improve international, the Group's leading veterinary training and CPD provider, Benchmark trains vets in the field who will have knowledge of, and will provide an excellent network for spreading knowledge regarding, new products. Benchmark operates internationally with offices in England, Scotland, Belgium, Ireland, Norway, Iceland, USA, Brazil, China, Russia, Portugal, Thailand and Chile.  As at 30 June 2016, Benchmark employed 889 people.


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