SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Visterra acquires license for dengue antibodies

Visterra, Inc., an antibody therapeutics developer, announced on Monday that it secured an exclusive patent license to a family of early-stage monoclonal antibodies that target dengue virus.

The antibodies were developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the lab of Ram Sasisekharan, one of the founders of Visterra. Sasisekharan used novel protein engineering techniques to develop the antibodies.

Visterra plans to apply its proprietary network analysis technology to develop a product candidate that is able to broadly neutralize all four serotypes of dengue virus.

"We are very pleased to license these promising dengue virus antibodies from MIT and we are focused on rapidly developing a product candidate for this global and devastating infectious disease, for which there is currently no preventive or therapeutic solution," Brian Pereira, the president and CEO of Visterra, said. "We have achieved significant progress to date with VIS410 our novel monoclonal antibody for seasonal and pandemic flu, and the licensing of the dengue virus antibodies substantially enhances our infectious diseases pipeline."

Dengue virus, a mosquito-borne viral infection found in tropical and sub-tropical regions, hospitalizes an estimated 500,000 people annually, according to the World Health Organization. Approximately 20,000 individuals die from dengue virus infections each year.

"Dengue fever is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide and there is a substantial epidemiological social and economic burden associated with this disease," Duane Gubler, a professor in the Emerging Infectious Diseases Program at Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School, said. "Dengue has been expanding into new geographical areas that previously did not experience the disease including parts of the U.S. and the EU In the absence of any therapeutic options today it is encouraging to observe Visterra's commitment to address this critical global health issue."