RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – StrideBio, an emerging startup focusing on gene therapies which closed on a big $81.5 million round of venture capital in March, is partnering with Duke University as it expands efforts to create next-generation therapies.
The agreement announced Wednesday is described as “a multi-technology collaboration.”
Specific financial terms were not disclosed but include equity, upfront and milestone-driven payments, and sponsored research commitments from StrideBio to Duke University. Also included are royalties on future product sales.
“We are very excited to partner with Duke University to advance these technologies that can improve and expand on the potential benefits of gene therapies for patients who desperately need them,” stated Sapan Shah, StrideBio’s CEO. “We look forward to working together with a fantastic group of Duke researchers and clinicians to bring next-generation AAV-based gene therapies to patients with rare CNS diseases and beyond, starting with Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood.”
StrideBio is focused on what it calls engineered viral vectors, or AAV, for gene therapy. The firm has already announced it has struck a deal with Crispr Therapeutics to develop in vivo gene delivery applications. As part of the deal, StrideBio will receive development funding, milestones and royalties on licensed vectors, and retain certain rights to use the novel AAV vectors for gene therapy applications.
Here’s how StrideBio describes the agreement and the tecnologies involved:
“The agreements announced today provide StrideBio an exclusive license to multiple technologies that will enable best-in-class next-generation gene therapies developed at Duke University. Included are novel engineered AAV vectors which complement StrideBio’s existing STRIVETM capsid engineering platform, having been selected through a cross-species evolution that results in significantly enhanced tropism and potency versus AAV9 across a wide range of tissues such as CNS, skeletal and cardiac muscle. Data on these novel vectors were presented by Duke researcher and StrideBio co-founder, Aravind Asokan, Ph.D., at the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy 23rd Annual Meeting in an abstract titled “Cross Species Evolution of Synthetic AAV Strains for Clinical Translation” (Gonzalez et al., ASGCT 2020, Abstract 24). In addition, StrideBio has licensed exclusive rights covering a novel use of IgG-degrading enzyme IdeZ to clear neutralizing antibodies in conjunction with AAV gene therapy administration. This innovative approach was recently published by members of the Asokan Lab in a manuscript titled “Rescuing AAV gene transfer from neutralizing antibodies with an IgG-degrading enzyme” (Elmore et al., JCI Insight, 2020, 5(19): e139881). Finally, StrideBio obtained license rights to a novel gene therapy approach for the treatment of AHC recently published by Duke researcher Mohamad Mikati, M.D., in a manuscript titled “AAV Mediated Gene Therapy in the Mashlool, Atp1a3Mashl/+, Mouse Model of Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood” (Hunanyan et al., Human Gene Therapy, February 12, 2021).”
“This License and Master Sponsored Research Agreement will ensure that these innovative technologies receive the resources and expertise necessary to develop treatments that can ultimately benefit patients. We are delighted to have StrideBio as a partner on this important effort in the gene therapy area,” said Robin Rasor, Executive Director of the Office of Licensing and Ventures at Duke, in the announcement.