Benitec licensee company, Tacere Therapeutics said that Pfizer has exercised the option, granted in a collaboration and license agreement announced in January 2008, to further develop and commercialise Tacere’s hepatitis C virus (HCV) compounds.
The clinical candidate is a new class of agent containing three separate RNAi elements, simultaneously targeting three different sites of the hepatitis C virus, and encapsidated in an adeno-associated virus (AAV) protein coat.
In preclinical animal studies, Tacere have demonstrated that a single intravenous injection of the agent results in penetration of hepatocytes at sufficiently high levels to potentially eradicate HCV. Tacere have been collaborating with Pfizer for two years to demonstrate that this agent has an excellent safety profile in both mice and non-human primates.
Sue MacLeman, chief executive officer of Benitec, said: “The triggering of this option by Pfizer is a validation of the Benitec ddRNAi ‘expressed’ approach to treating chronic diseases from the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company.”
Tacere and Pfizer will continue to work together for the next 12 months to complete regulatory toxicology studies, with Pfizer maintaining funding for all aspects of this collaboration. Benitec possesses and retains rights to all human therapeutic applications of its ddRNAi technology and continues to explore licensing and other growth opportunities.