Vaxart, Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing oral recombinant vaccines that are administered by tablet rather than by injection, announced that it has signed an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Altesa Biosciences, Inc. to allow Altesa to develop and commercialize Vaxart’s patented formulation of the capsid-binding VapendavirTM, a clinical-stage broad spectrum antiviral.
Altesa is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing therapeutics addressing RNA viruses, the principal cause of global infectious disease burden. Altesa was co-founded by Dennis Liotta, PhD, Executive Director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development and Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Chemistry at Emory University, and George Painter, PhD, a renowned biotech entrepreneur and co-founder of Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE), a university-based drug discovery center established in response to the falling output and rising costs of pharmaceutical research and development. Dr. Painter is the Chief Science Officer of Altesa and Dr. Liotta serves as chairman of Altesa’s Scientific Advisory Board.
“We believe that Vapendavir has lifesaving potential in the treatment of a range of viral infections for which there are currently no approved antivirals,” Vaxart’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrei Floroiu said. “This agreement represents another potential value creation lever for Vaxart, even as Vaxart puts its primary emphasis on the development of oral vaccines. Having a partner such as Altesa, led by a scientist and entrepreneur of George Painter’s stature, will accelerate Vapendavir’s development.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Altesa is granted the worldwide, exclusive right to develop, manufacture, and commercialize Vaxart’s proprietary formulation of Vapendavir. Vaxart is eligible to receive up to $130 million in development and commercial milestones, as well as tiered royalties ranging from the low-single to low-double digits on product sales for multiple indications.
Vaxart acquired Vapendavir in 2018 as part of the merger with Aviragen Therapeutics, Inc., and previously demonstrated preclinically and in clinical trials that Vapendavir is active against a broad spectrum of enteroviruses and could combat respiratory infections produced by the human rhinovirus (HRV).
Vapendavir has potential applications in treating a range of infections including: epidemic hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) that affects millions globally, particularly in developing countries; HRV infection in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients; and several illnesses affecting children, including enteroviral infections, seasonal recurrent lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) in preschoolers, and seasonal asthma exacerbation in school-age children.
Dr George Painter said, “We are excited to expand the pipeline of novel antivirals through this licensing agreement with Vaxart. Vapendavir has shown promising preclinical and clinical data demonstrating effective control of certain respiratory viruses and we believe in its potential to help patients suffering from a range of viral infections.”
Dr. Painter added, “My number one priority is to make a difference in patients’ lives. I am hopeful that we can create modern antiviral treatments as we have with HIV, MERS and SARS.”
About Altesa Biosciences, Inc.
Altesa Biosciences, Inc. is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Altesa is developing therapeutics addressing RNA viruses, the principal cause of global infectious disease burden. Altesa is led by George Painter, PhD, President and CEO of the Emory Institute of Drug Development (EIDD). Dr. Painter also serves as a professor of pharmacology at the Emory School of Medicine, as well as CEO of Drug Innovations at Emory (DRIVE) where he led the discovery and initial development of EIDD-2801/MK-4482, now in late-stage development by Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and Merck for the treatment of COVID-19. Altesa was co-founded by Dennis Liotta, PhD, Executive Director of the Emory Institute for Drug Development and Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Chemistry at Emory University. Dr. Painter and Dr. Liotta have successfully led the discovery, development and commercialization for more than a dozen FDA approved antivirals.
Vaxart is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a range of oral recombinant vaccines based on its proprietary delivery platform. Vaxart vaccines are designed to be administered using tablets that can be stored and shipped without refrigeration and eliminate the risk of needle-stick injury. Vaxart believes that its proprietary tablet vaccine delivery platform is suitable to deliver recombinant vaccines, positioning the company to develop oral versions of currently marketed vaccines and to design recombinant vaccines for new indications. Vaxart’s development programs currently include tablet vaccines designed to protect against coronavirus, norovirus, seasonal influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), as well as a therapeutic vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV), Vaxart’s first immuno-oncology indication. Vaxart has filed broad domestic and international patent applications covering its proprietary technology and creations for oral vaccination using adenovirus and TLR3 agonists.