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Genentech forges $800m autoimmune alliance with Parvus

Big vote of confidence in novel platform

parvus

Roche’s Genentech unit has signed a licensing deal with Parvus Therapeutics aimed at developing drugs for autoimmune diseases that don’t put patients at risk of infections or cancer.

It’s not the first licensing deal for the Canadian biotech, which is also working with Novartis on a type 1 diabetes programme agreed in 2017, but is on a much bigger scale, covering multiple autoimmune diseases and with undisclosed upfront and milestone payments exceeding $800m.

Genentech will work with Parvus to use its Navacim platform to develop candidates for inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune liver diseases, and coeliac disease, and between Genentech and Novartis, all of Parvus’ current pipeline programmes are now partnered.

Parvus’ Navacims are the brainchild of University of Calgary researcher Pere Santamaria, who was a founder of the biotech in 2009, and serves as its chief scientific officer. They are designed to selectively switch off the parts of the immune system responsible for autoimmune reactions whilst leaving defences against pathogens and malignant cells intact.

That’s very different approach to current autoimmune therapies that often have a wide-ranging immunosuppressant effect, according to Parvus.

It describes its nanoparticle-based drugs as follows: “Navacims target and act only on disease-causing effector T cells, delivering a powerful signal that spurs the effector cells to differentiate into regulatory T cells specific to the patient’s disease.” “Referred to as disease- or tissue-specific T regulatory cells (Tregs), these cells induce immunological tolerance to block undesired immune responses to self-antigens, while maintaining the integrity of the general immune system.”

So far, none of the programmes have progressed through to the clinical trial stage. One key characteristic of the Navacims is that they only exert an effect when disease-causing, autoimmune T cells are present, so their action should be self-limiting, says Parvus.

Under the terms of the agreement with Genentech, privately-held Parvus will carry out initial preclinical and phase 1 clinical work on drug candidates, with Roche’s unit taking over development at the phase 2 stage. “As a researcher, it is a privilege to have the potential opportunity to make an impact on the lives of people who suffer from these conditions,” said Santamaria.

17th May 2019

From: Research

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