Roivant Licenses iNtRON Bio's Anti-Bacterial in $667.5 Million Deal

Staphylococcus Aureus colony animation

Colony of Staphylococcus aureus 

Roivant Sciences signed a global licensing deal with South Korea's iNtRON Biotechnology for SAL200 to treat antibiotic-resistant staphylococci.

Under the terms of the deal, Roivant is paying iNtRON Bio $10 million upfront. iNtRON will be eligible for milestone payments. When the first patient receives treatment in a U.S. Phase II clinical trial scheduled for 2019, the first milestone will be $30 million.

The agreement also gives Roivant the option to license iNtRON Bio’s non-clinical stage, anti-Gram-positive endolysin programs, including anti-VRE and anti-TB biologics, for another $45 million each. VRE is for vancomycin-resistant enterococcus and TB is for tuberculosis. Roivant also has the first option to buy iNtRON Bio’s anti-Gram-negative platform.

In total, the deal could exceed $667.5 million.

SAL200 contains bacteriophage-derived endolysin. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. Endolysins are enzymes bacteriophages use to split the host bacteria’s cell wall when they invade them. Because of this novel mode of action, endolysins have the potential to be a new approach to antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

In preclinical studies, SAL200 showed bactericidal activity against a broad range of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-intermediate Staphylococcus aureus (VISA), vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) and others.

In keeping with Roivant’s business model, it will create a subsidiary dedicated to developing and commercializing iNtRON Bio’s endolysin products. Although at this time the subsidiary does not appear to be named, it is almost assuredly going to have “Vant” in the name.

“This partnership with iNtRON represents our commitment at Roivant Pharma to deliver transformational therapeutics,” stated Mayhukh Sukhatme, president of Roivant Pharma. “The development of novel anti-infective therapies is one of the greatest needs of our time and we hope to maximize the impact of SAL200 on public health through innovative approaches to both development and commercialization.”

In more Roivant news, the company reported that one of its companies, Genevant Sciences, had appointed Bo Rode Hansen as president and chief executive officer and Mark Kay as an independent member of its board of directors.

Hansen was previously president and chief scientific officer and Head of R&D with Genevant. Before that, he was global head of RNA Therapeutics and general manager of Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen. He held executive and research roles at Santaris Pharma and Cureon A/S.

“Dr. Hansen has led over 50 RNA discovery programs and brings strong transactional, R&D, and leadership skills to his new role as president and CEO,” stated Paris Panayiotopoulos, executive chairman of Genevant. “Bo will be leading a team of world-class RNA experts who have already made impressive progress in advancing multiple programs across RNA modalities, both internally and through our 50/50 mRNA partnership with BioNTech.”

Kay is a leading researcher in RNA therapeutics. He has been the Dennis Farrey Family Professor in Pediatrics and Professor of Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine since 1998. He is the co-founder and board member and Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) member of LogicBio Therapeutics. He is also a scientific co-founder and SAB member of Voyager Therapeutics.

In a statement, Hansen said, “I am honored to serve and lead this exceptional team. Genevant is well positioned to succeed as the first modality-agnostic RNA therapeutic company. We believe RNA therapeutics will expand the horizon of druggable targets, permitting us to develop treatments for a range of disorders with high unmet need. Our holistic approach is truly differentiated and allows us to fully maximize the potential of these therapeutics.”

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