Pfizer to partner with Visterra

Collaboration to focus on Visterra's proprietary platform to develop novel antibodies

Kelsey Kaustinen
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Visterra Inc. has announced theestablishment of a collaboration agreement with Pfizer Inc. to use Visterra'sproprietary platform for the discovery of novel antibodies.
 
 
"We are very pleased that our first pharmaceuticalpartnership is with Pfizer, an industry leader with broad drug developmentexpertise," Steven Brugger, CEO of Visterra, said in a press release.  "This collaboration further supportsthe potential utility of Visterra's antibody design platform, and we lookforward to collaborating with Pfizer while we continue to advance Visterra'sown internal product pipeline."
 
Per the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will pay Visterra anupfront fee as well as research funding. Visterra is also eligible to receivemilestone payments if certain research and development milestones are met, aswell as being eligible for royalties on product commercialization. Specificfinancial details were not disclosed.
 
"We view Visterra's technology as a promising approach forengineering therapeutic antibodies, and look forward to this collaboration,"Jose-Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, Pfizer's senior vice president of Research andDevelopment, Biotherapeutics, said in a statement.
 
 
Visterra's platform is based on "the atomic interactionnetwork analyses of proteins," the company notes on its website, adding thatits approach allows "a more in-depth, three-dimensional structuralunderstanding of proteins to (i) identify unique target epitopes and (ii) guidethe design of novel drugs to effectively combat disease."
 
 
The company's lead compound is VIS410, a broad-spectrummonoclonal antibody indicated for the prevention and treatment of seasonal andpandemic influenza. The compound targets " a conformational epitope on the stemregion of the influenza hemagglutinin (HA) protein," which is conserved acrossall influenza A strains of the virus in addition to being mutation resistant.Targeting that epitope allows VIS410 to fight "all key potential seasonal andpandemic influenza A strains, including H1N1, H3N2 and H5N1 (or Avian Flu),"with coverage in Group 1 (which includes H1, H2 and H5 strains) and Group 2 (H3and H7 strains).
 
 
Visterra announced the presentation of positive data forVIS410 this week at the 52nd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents andChemotherapy in San Francisco. The data, gathered in a preclinical study todetermine the compound's efficacy, revealed VIS410 to be potent and specific inprotecting mouse models from lethal doses of influenza. Mice were injected witha lethal dose of influenza A virus, and VIS410 offered protection both as aprophylactic and as a therapeutic.
 
 
 
 
To test the compound as a prophylactic, healthy,non-infected mice were given a single dose of VIS410, then infected with eitherH1N1 or H3N2 influenza A virus, and 100 percent of the mice survived. Intesting the compound in post-infection therapeutic studies, mice infected witha lethal viral challenge of either H1N1 or H3N2 received a single dose ofVIS410, and 100 percent of the mice survived when given the antibody up to 72hours after being infected.
 
"We are highly encouraged by these VIS410 results, whichsuggest that an antibody approach such as Visterra's may be a turning point inthe development of a new universal approach for both seasonal and pandemicinfluenza," said Brugger in a statement regarding the results. "This studyconfirms proof of concept for our proprietary platform to identify uniquetargets that guide the engineering of novel drugs that are designed to behighly effective in the prevention or treatment of infectious disease."
 
 
Moving forward, Visterra intends to further develop itspipeline beyond influenza to target additional infectious diseases.

Kelsey Kaustinen

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