enGene, Inc., a privately held biotechnology company developing a versatile non-viral vector platform for gene delivery through its proprietary technology “Gene Pill”, recently announced that it has made a decisive agreement with Janssen Biotech, Inc. for the development and commercialization of new treatments for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).
Under the terms of the agreement, enGene will receive an upfront payment, equity investment through Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc., and R&D funding. The company is also qualified to receive diverse pre-clinical, clinical, regulatory and commercialization accomplishment-based payments up to an amount of C $441 million, as well as tiered royalties on prospective net sales of its clinical products.
The collaboration empowers the company’s proprietary non-viral vector platform for gene delivery to cells lining the intestine. The vector system can be administered to the intestine orally or via enema route.
This cooperation offers Janssen the possibility to wholly license EG-12, enGene’s lead product that consists of a unique carrier-DNA complex that provides gut-localized expression of interleukin (IL)-10, being developed for the treatment of ulcerative colitis. IL-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine, and individuals with genetic defects within the IL-10 signaling pathway can suffer from severe early-onset inflammation of the gut. EG-12 will be jointly developed by the companies to provide clinical proof of mechanism in IBD patients. The partnership also consents Janssen to investigate the therapeutic potential of enGene’s platform to produce one supplementary unrevealed target.
“We are thrilled to enter into this collaboration with Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation because it will accelerate clinical development of our unique gene delivery platform for the gut,” said Dr. Anthony Cheung, chief executive officer and a co-founder of enGene, in a news release. “This alliance represents a significant opportunity for us to develop an entirely new class of transformative therapies for IBD and other diseases. Janssen is a leading, global biopharmaceutical company that has extensive experience and a long-standing track record of success in immunology and developing drugs for IBD. We look forward to working closely with the team at Janssen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation.”
Dr. Cheung added, “This strategic collaboration will also accelerate the development of enGene’s gene delivery platform into an orally available ‘Gene Pill’, which offers the potential of being a game-changer by making oral delivery of protein drugs a reality.”
IBD is a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the principal types of IBD. It is important to note that not only does Crohn’s disease affect the small intestine and large intestine, it can also affect the mouth, esophagus, stomach and the anus, whereas ulcerative colitis primarily affects the colon and the rectum. In the United States, it is currently estimated that between 1 million and 1.3 million people suffer from IBD. The cause of the condition is unknown.