CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Visterra, Inc. today announced that it has entered into a research collaboration, exclusive license, and option agreement with Vir Biotechnology, Inc. to develop and commercialize select programs for infectious diseases derived from Visterra’s Hierotope® platform technology. The strategic collaboration will combine Visterra’s novel platform for designing and engineering antibody-based biological medicines against unique disease targets with Vir’s specialized expertise in innovative research and development for infectious diseases. Visterra’s Hierotope platform utilizes proprietary computational tools and technologies to identify specific epitopes that are critical to the function of the antigen and to design and engineer precision antibody-based biological medicines to target these epitopes that are difficult to address by traditional techniques.
“Vir has a very strong and specialized focus on innovation in infectious diseases, which is an ideal application for our Hierotope platform. We are very pleased that Vir has chosen to partner with Visterra and this collaboration will accelerate the advancement of our promising research programs focused on treating and preventing infectious diseases,” said Brian J.G. Pereira, M.D., president and chief executive officer of Visterra. “In addition, this collaboration further validates the utility and robustness of our Hierotope platform and our ability to design and engineer precision antibody-based biological medicines against targets that are difficult to address by traditional techniques. We look forward to seeing these promising programs yield important drugs that will benefit underserved patients around the globe.”
Vir will exclusively license from Visterra up to five research programs for infectious diseases:
- VIS-FLX, a long-acting monoclonal antibody being developed for the prevention of influenza A in high-risk individuals;
- VIS-RSV, a bispecific monoclonal antibody for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, that is designed to both neutralize the virus and prevent its pro-inflammatory activity;
- VIS-FNG, a bispecific monoclonal antibody for the treatment of severe fungal infections that targets fungal glycans common among most human fungi, including Candida, Aspergillus and Cryptococcus; and
- Vir may further expand their license by up to two additional infectious disease research programs.
In conjunction with the collaboration, Visterra has received from Vir an upfront payment, and will receive funding of costs incurred by Visterra related to the licensed programs. Visterra will be responsible for the development of the Vir licensed programs up to a pre-determined stage, and then Vir will assume further development of these candidates. At the point when Vir assumes development responsibilities, Visterra will be eligible to receive future development, regulatory and sales milestone payments per Vir licensed program. Visterra will also be eligible to receive tiered royalties related to worldwide net sales of products developed under the collaboration.
Under additional terms of the collaboration, Visterra has granted Vir an option to a minority financial interest in VIS410, a monoclonal antibody in development for the treatment of hospitalized patients with influenza A. Following exercise of the option, Vir may also elect to co-promote VIS410 in select territories.
In total, Visterra is eligible to receive over $1 billion in payments from development, regulatory, and sales milestones, and is also eligible to receive royalties on future product sales from licensed programs.
“The acquisition of best-in-class assets is key to achieving Vir’s mission to transform the care of people with serious infectious diseases,” said George A. Scangos, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Vir. “Visterra’s novel technologies have demonstrated great potential in preclinical research and early clinical development, and we are pleased to work together to advance them through the clinic and ultimately to patients.”
Visterra continues to advance its four product candidates, VIS410, VIS513, VIS705 and VIS649, as well as its other research programs. Visterra is currently conducting a Phase 2a clinical trial of VIS410 in ambulatory patients with influenza A, with funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Top-line results from this trial are expected in early 2018 and a Phase 2b clinical trial of VIS410 in hospitalized patients with influenza A is planned to be initiated in early 2018. VIS513 is a monoclonal antibody in development for the treatment of dengue that is being advanced under a collaboration with the Serum Institute of India and is expected to enter the clinic in 2018. VIS705 is an antibody-drug conjugate being developed for the treatment of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a Gram-negative bacterial infection. VIS649 is a monoclonal antibody in development for the treatment of IgA nephropathy, and Visterra expects to initiate clinical trials in 2018 for this product candidate.
Visterra is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on applying its novel Hierotope® platform to identify unique disease targets and to design and engineer precision antibody-based biological medicines against such targets that are not adequately addressed with conventional approaches. These targets include infectious organisms such as viruses, bacteria and fungi, which have a high degree of diversity among strains with frequent mutations. Visterra’s technology is also uniquely capable of engineering biological medicines that selectively modify the activity of endogenous targets that have limited surface area, are hard to access, have dynamic structures, and/or are similar to other proteins in the body that should be avoided. Visterra’s lead product candidate, VIS410, is a monoclonal antibody in development as a single-dose administration for the treatment of hospitalized patients with influenza A, regardless of the viral strain. The company’s other product candidates are VIS513, a monoclonal antibody in development as a single-dose administration for the treatment of dengue, VIS649, a monoclonal antibody in development for the treatment of IgA nephropathy, and VIS705, an antibody-drug conjugate being developed as a single-dose curative therapy, engineered to kill all strains of the deadly Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, including potentially multi-drug resistant strains. In addition, Visterra has applied its Hierotope platform to develop novel modifications to the Fc region of an antibody, to enhance half-life by as much as ten-fold while maintaining and often improving effector function. These capabilities, called ViStar™ antibody Fc engineering, support the development of long-acting monoclonal antibodies for the extended protection in infectious diseases and less frequent administration in chronic diseases. For more information, visit www.visterrainc.com.