Hybridon today announced it had entered into research collaboration and license agreements with Novartis for the discovery, optimization, development and commercialization of Toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) drug candidates targeting asthma and allergy based on Hybridon's proprietary immune modulatory oligonucleotide (IMO) technology platform.
The agreements are structured in two phases. During the research collaboration phase, Hybridon and Novartis will work together to evaluate novel IMOs from which Novartis may select IMO candidates for further development through human clinical "proof of concept" trials. Based on the results, Novartis may then elect to implement the commercialization agreement, complete the development, and commercialize one or more of the IMO candidates.
Novartis will fund substantially all research activities and make payments to Hybridon, including up-front license fees and milestone payments, which if Novartis elects to exercise its option to develop and commercialize IMO candidates may total up to $136 million for the products, plus royalties.
"There is a pressing need to develop more effective methods of treating asthma and allergies, both of which are large and growing medical problems," said Sudhir Agrawal, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Scientific Officer of Hybridon. "We believe that our IMO technology can be used to develop immune modulatory compounds to address the underlying conditions of these diseases and result in novel treatments for these serious unmet medical needs. We are optimistic that our DNA chemistry expertise coupled with Novartis' strength in research and development plus their track record of bringing new products to market can contribute substantially to the success of this program."
Toll-like receptors are recognized by the scientific community as the gateways to immune modulation. Using its extensive experience with DNA chemistry, Hybridon has developed a portfolio of IMO compounds designed to act as agonists of TLR9 and thereby elicit a Th-1 type immune response. Agonists of TLR are potentially useful for treatment of a variety of diseases, including asthma, allergy, cancer and infectious disease. Hybridon's lead IMO, IMOxine, is in a Phase 2 human clinical trial for renal cell cancer.