CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Intravacc | September 12, 2022
Intravacc, a world leader in translational research and development of preventive and therapeutic vaccines, today announced additional favorable preclinical and toxicology data for Avacc 10®, the company's SARS-CoV-2 intranasal candidate vaccine. These results demonstrate a reduction in upper respiratory tract viral load, broad cross protection against circulating variants of concern. and a good safety profile, allowing progression towards a phase I clinical study.
"Based on our additional pre-clinical data, Avacc 10® has the potential to reduce the spreading of the virus as well as providing broad protection against circulation variants. Combined with the favorable toxicological safety data, this puts us a good position for our Phase I clinical trial, which will commence in Q4 2022."
Dr. Jan Groen, Intravacc's Chairman & CEO
The first set of pre-clinical studies of Avacc 10®, published in Frontiers of Immunology in December 2021, demonstrated high levels of spike-binding immunoglobulin G (IgG) and A (IgA) antibodies in serum, and the nose and lungs after two intranasal vaccinations 3 weeks apart. Avacc 10® vaccinated hamsters challenged with SARS-CoV-2 were protected from weight loss and viral replication in the lungs and histopathology showed no lesions in lungs 7 days after challenge.
The objectives of the additional pre-clinical and toxicology study of Avacc 10® were to study the dosing, cross neutralization and safety of the intranasal vaccine. For the dosing study, mice were vaccinated intranasally with two doses of various concentrations of OMV and Spike protein. Three weeks after the last vaccination neutralizing antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain and variants of concern Delta, Gamma and Omicron were determined in the sera. High virus neutralizing antibody titers were detected against all the variant viruses. Syrian hamsters were used to study viral replication after challenge with SARS-CoV-2. A reduced viral load in throat and lungs and highly reduced lung lesions were observed in Avacc 10® vaccinated animals exposed to placebo vaccinated, challenged animals. Furthermore, delayed transmission of Avacc 10® vaccinated, challenged animals to placebo vaccinated animals was observed.
The purpose of the repeated dose toxicity study was to assess the safety and tolerability of Avacc 10® when administered through the intranasal route in New Zealand White Rabbits. Animals were vaccinated 3 times with Avacc 10® , and control animals with OMV only, or saline buffer. Toxicity was monitored until 2 weeks after the final vaccination. No clinical signs of toxicity nor morbidity/mortality were found in any of the groups, and no gross pathological changes were observed, demonstrating the safety of OMV based vaccine. All Avacc 10® vaccinated animals showed high IgG antibodies levels against Spike as well as virus neutralizing antibodies.
Based on the outcome of the Phase I trial, Intravacc will seek manufacturing and commercialization license partners.
About Intravacc's OMV platform technology
For the development of vaccines, Intravacc has designed and developed a platform based on outer membrane vesicles (OMVs) - spherical particles with intrinsic adjuvant properties. The OMVs can be rigged with immunogenic peptides and/or proteins that stimulate effective adaptive immunity. The OMV carrier has been optimized to induce a more effective immune response against these newly introduced antigens. Intravacc has also developed genetic tools to increase the yield of OMVs, reduce the toxicity and achieve the desired antigenic composition. Intravacc's OMV platform is fully scalable and allows rapid and efficient modification of the antigen composition, either through genetic modification of the bacterial host or by associating antigens with stored OMVs.
Intravacc, located at Utrecht Science Park Bilthoven in the Netherlands, is a leading global contract development and manufacturing organization for infectious diseases and therapeutic vaccines. As an established independent CDMO with many years of experience in the development and optimization of vaccines and vaccine technologies, Intravacc has transferred its technology world-wide for many vaccines including polio-, measles-, DPT-, Hib- and influenza. Around 40% of childhood disease vaccines are based on Intravacc's know-how and proprietary technology. Intravacc offers a wide range of expertise for independent vaccine development, from concept to Phase I/II clinical studies for partners around the world, including universities, public health organizations biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
CELL AND GENE THERAPY
Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. | September 21, 2022
Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a leading late-stage, clinical biotechnology company advancing an integrated and sustainable pipeline of genetic therapies for rare childhood disorders with high unmet need, and Renovacor, Inc. a biotechnology company focused on delivering innovative precision therapies to improve the lives of patients and families battling genetically-driven cardiovascular and mechanistically-related diseases, today announced a definitive agreement under which Rocket will acquire Renovacor in an all-stock transaction for an implied value of approximately $2.60 per share, based on the volume weighted average trading price of Rocket shares of $15.51 for the 30 trading days through and including Monday, September 19, 2022. The boards of directors of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction, which is currently expected to close by the first quarter of 2023.
“The acquisition of Renovacor aligns with our strategy to expand our leadership position in AAV-based gene therapy for cardiac disease and gives us a perfect opportunity to continue on our mission to transform the lives of heart failure patients through the power of gene therapy. Building on our success in Danon Disease to date, I am particularly excited to expand our cardiology focus and capabilities and address a clear unmet medical need in BAG3-associated dilated cardiomyopathy. By combining Renovacor’s compelling preclinical work with our joint clinical, regulatory and CMC expertise, we believe we will be well-positioned to bring the highest impact gene therapy with the best chance for success to these patients in the most productive and efficient manner possible.”
Gaurav Shah, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Rocket
Dr. Shah continued, “Given the positive pediatric safety data previously announced from our Phase 1 RP-A501 Danon Disease program, and the upcoming pediatric efficacy data and longer-term adult cohort data we anticipate presenting at the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) Scientific Meeting at the end of this month, this strategic acquisition gives us what we believe is the broadest platform in the field to address these devastating rare cardiac diseases. Furthermore, the acquisition will bring to Rocket key personnel, namely a team of leading cardiology drug development experts, critical capabilities, and valuable IP to support continued development of the BAG3 as well as other potential cardiac programs, including a gene therapy research collaboration for arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy.”
Renovacor’s most advanced program, REN-001, is an AAV-based gene therapy targeting BAG3-associated dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a severe form of heart failure. BAG3-DCM represents a significant unmet medical need in a patient population with rapidly progressive cardiac dysfunction in whom no treatments targeting the underlying mechanism of disease exist. Renovacor has deep technical expertise in the development of precision therapies that address genetically driven cardiac diseases. Further, Renovacor is supported by world-class scientific collaborators, a robust intellectual property portfolio and personnel with expertise in BAG3-DCM. These assets and capabilities, all together, represent tremendous value and will enhance Rocket’s leading position in cardiac AAV-based gene therapy.
“Renovacor has made tremendous progress in advancing targeted gene therapies to address the high unmet medical needs of patients living with genetically driven forms of heart disease,” said Magdalene Cook, MD, Chief Executive Officer of Renovacor. “Our experienced team is excited to join Rocket in a shared vision of broadening patient access to precision medicines for cardiovascular disease and addressing common barriers jointly. We look forward to combining the considerable resources and expertise of Renovacor and Rocket in creating a category leader in the precision cardiology field. As a result of this combination, we will be suspending current guidance regarding preclinical and clinical timelines for our programs as we evaluate these items with the Rocket team.”
It is currently anticipated that the transaction will close by the first quarter of 2023, subject to approval by Renovacor and Rocket shareholders, receipt of any required customary regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. RTW Investments, LP, a significant shareholder of both Rocket and Renovacor, has entered into a voting agreement with Renovacor, pursuant to which they have agreed, among other things, and subject to the terms and conditions of the agreement, to vote in favor of the Renovacor acquisition as a Rocket stockholder.
SVB Securities is serving as exclusive financial advisor and Goodwin Procter LLP is serving as legal counsel to Rocket. Wells Fargo Securities is serving as exclusive financial advisor and Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP is serving as legal counsel to Renovacor.
About Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Rocket Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is advancing an integrated and sustainable pipeline of genetic therapies that correct the root cause of complex and rare childhood disorders. The Company’s platform-agnostic approach enables it to design the best therapy for each indication, creating potentially transformative options for patients afflicted with rare genetic diseases. Rocket's clinical programs using lentiviral vector (LVV)-based gene therapy are for the treatment of Fanconi Anemia (FA), a difficult to treat genetic disease that leads to bone marrow failure and potentially cancer, Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency-I (LAD-I), a severe pediatric genetic disorder that causes recurrent and life-threatening infections which are frequently fatal, and Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD), a rare, monogenic red blood cell disorder resulting in increased red cell destruction and mild to life-threatening anemia. Rocket’s first clinical program using adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene therapy is for Danon Disease, a devastating, pediatric heart failure condition.
Renovacor is a biotechnology company focused on delivering innovative precision therapies to improve the lives of patients and families battling genetically-driven cardiovascular and mechanistically-related diseases. The company’s lead program in BAG3-associated dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) uses gene transfer technology to address the monogenic cause of this severe form of heart failure. Renovacor’s vision is to bring life-changing therapies to patients living with serious genetic cardiovascular and related diseases, by developing medicines that target the underlying cause of disease and provide a transformative benefit and significant improvement to quality of life.
Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. | October 17, 2022
Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. announced that a three-judge arbitration panel has issued a final decision in a dispute with Alkermes PLC regarding licensing royalties relating to AMPYRA. Acorda was awarded $15 million plus prejudgment interest of $1.5 million from Alkermes. In addition, as a result of the panel’s ruling, Acorda will no longer have to pay Alkermes any royalties on net sales for license and supply of AMPYRA, and Acorda is now free to use alternative sources for supply of AMPYRA, which the Company has already secured.
“This award will allow Acorda to obtain more competitive market rates for the supply of AMPYRA, significantly reducing our cost of goods and meaningfully increasing the product’s value to the company. This will also help Acorda to continue to provide its customary high level of support for Ampyra, ensuring that as many people with MS as possible may benefit from it.”
Ron Cohen, M.D., Acorda’s President and CEO
Acorda filed an arbitration demand with the American Arbitration Association in July 2020 after the parties were unable to resolve their dispute over license and supply royalties following the 2018 expiration of an Alkermes patent relating to AMPYRA.
About Acorda Therapeutics
Acorda Therapeutics develops therapies to restore function and improve the lives of people with neurological disorders. INBRIJA is approved for intermittent treatment of OFF episodes in adults with Parkinson’s disease treated with carbidopa/levodopa. INBRIJA is not to be used by patients who take or have taken a nonselective monoamine oxidase inhibitor such as phenelzine or tranylcypromine within the last two weeks. INBRIJA utilizes Acorda’s innovative ARCUS® pulmonary delivery system, a technology platform designed to deliver medication through inhalation. Acorda also markets the branded AMPYRA® Extended Release Tablets, 10 mg.