Astellas Pharma and Immunomic Therapeutics Announce Worldwide Partnership for LAMP-vax™ Products for Allergic Disease

Oct 09, 2015, 08:00 ET from Astellas Pharma Inc.

HERSHEY, Pa. and ROCKVILLE, Md. and TOKYO, Oct. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc. ("Immunomic Therapeutics"), a company developing next generation vaccines based on the LAMP-vax platform, and Astellas Pharma Inc. ("Astellas") today announced they have entered into an exclusive worldwide license agreement to the LAMP-vax products for the treatment or prevention of any and all allergic diseases in humans. The LAMP-vax technology enhances the effectiveness of DNA vaccines. It has the ability to make DNA vaccines work, which potentially enables effective vaccinations for a wide spectrum of diseases.  

In January 2015, Immunomic Therapeutics and Astellas entered into an exclusive license agreement for Japan to develop and commercialize ASP4070 (previously known as JRC2-LAMP-vax) designed to treat allergies induced by Japanese red cedar pollen; Astellas initiated a Phase 1 trial of ASP4070 in Japan this year. Irrespective of the new agreement, this initial agreement remains in effect.

Astellas has now acquired the exclusive worldwide rights to research, develop, manufacture and commercialize any potential LAMP-vax products designed to treat or prevent human allergic diseases, including, among other things, ARA-LAMP-vax for the treatment or prevention of peanut allergy as well as other research-stage programs for food or environmental allergies.

Upon execution of the new agreement, Immunomic Therapeutics will receive an upfront payment of $300 million and be entitled to receive 10% royalties of net sales of the potential products.

"We are excited that Astellas recognized the potential of LAMP-vax technology to usher in a new era in vaccination against common and serious allergies and are thrilled to be partnering with them again," said Dr. William Hearl, CEO of Immunomic Therapeutics. "With this new partnership, Astellas can explore the LAMP-vax platform for allergic disease, while we continue applications in other areas, like cancer immunotherapy."

"Astellas sets a strategic goal to advance new opportunities as part of our Strategic Plan 2015-2017, and we are actively investing in new therapeutic areas and new technologies/new modalities, in particular, regenerative medicine and next generation vaccines," commented Kenji Yasukawa, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, Astellas. "We focus on immunology as one of the prioritized disease areas for our research and are exploring targets for new drug discoveries that involve several immune disorders, with the aim of developing a causal treatment for immune disorders. We are very excited to partner with Immunomic Therapeutics again as this transaction further supports our strategic goals and strengthens our pipeline in immunology."

The impact of this transaction on Astellas' financial results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016 will be immaterial.

About LAMP-vax platform
The LAMP-vax platform is a breakthrough technology that has the potential to fundamentally improve the use of vaccines across a wide variety of diseases.  LAMP-vax is a next-generation DNA vaccine that stimulates an immune response against a particular protein, injecting the DNA encoding the protein rather than the protein itself.  However, unlike conventional DNA vaccines, the LAMP-vax includes a short DNA sequence encoding the Lysosomal Associated Membrane Protein (LAMP).  This allows DNA vaccines developed based on the LAMP-vax platform to utilize the body's natural biochemistry to develop a more complete immune response compared to conventional DNA vaccines.  Unlike conventional DNA vaccines that primarily elicit a cytotoxic T cell immune response, vaccines developed using LAMP-vax initiate a more complete immune response, including antibody production, cytokine release and critical immunological memory.  The ability to activate a complete immune response gives LAMP-vax technology potential across a number of diseases, including allergic disease and cancer immunotherapy.

About ARA-LAMP-vax
Food allergies cause over 30,000 incidents of anaphylaxis and 100 to 200 deaths in the United States each year. Peanut allergy is highly problematic with more than 1.5 million Americans impacted; life-threatening anaphylaxis can be induced by trace exposure. A diagnosis of peanut allergy means maintaining constant dietary vigilance to reduce the risk of accidental peanut-induced anaphylaxis. As of today, there is no peanut-specific FDA-approved treatment available for this common allergy in the USA. ARA-LAMP-vax has been developed based on the LAMP-vax platform of which exclusive and worldwide license is granted to Immunomic Therapeutics by Johns Hopkins University. ARA-LAMP-vax is made up of one DNA plasmid encoding the major peanut allergens, encoded as fusion proteins with LAMP for the conversion of the immune system response from a TH2/ IgE allergen response to a TH1/ IgG antigen response with the simultaneous elimination of allergy symptoms.

About Immunomic Therapeutics
Immunomic Therapeutics, Inc. (Immunomic Therapeutics) is a privately-held clinical stage biotechnology company dedicated to pioneering vaccines that transform lives. It is headquartered in Hershey, PA with lab facilities in Rockville, MD. Immunomic Therapeutics develops next-generation vaccines based on patented LAMP technology. The LAMP-vax vaccine platform significantly increases immune response to nucleic acid vaccines and simplifies vaccine design and delivery for safer, more cost-effective therapies. LAMP constructs have been validated in human clinical trials for cancer and have been applied to other disease targets such as allergy, cancer and infectious diseases. Immunomic Therapeutics' vision is to have global regulatory approved products in multiple diseases: allergy (pollen, food, environment, allergy in animals), cancer, infectious disease and animal health. For information about Immunomic Therapeutics and LAMP technology, visit www.immunomix.com.

About Astellas
Astellas Pharma Inc., based in Tokyo, Japan, is a company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. We focus on Urology, Oncology, Immunology, Nephrology and Neuroscience as prioritized therapeutic areas while advancing new therapeutic areas and discovery research leveraging new technologies/modalities. We are also creating new value by combining internal capabilities and external expertise in the medical/healthcare business. Astellas is on the forefront of healthcare change to turn innovative science into value for patients. For more information, please visit our website at www.astellas.com/en.

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