Cytos to regain smoking cessation vaccine rights

The Zurich, Switzerland-based Cytos Biotechnology, Ltd., announced on Wednesday that it will receive the licensed rights for a smoking cessation vaccine as part of a license agreement with Novartis.

Cytos, a public biopharmaceutical company that develops targeted immunotherapies, formed the license agreement for the NIC002 project with Novartis in 2007. NIC002 is a therapeutic vaccine candidate meant to treat nicotine addiction.

An October 2009 Phase II study with NIC002 demonstrated formation of nicotine-specific antibodies in patients, but the vaccine did not meet the primary endpoint of increased smoking cessation.

The discontinuation of the project returns to Cytos the licensed rights for NIC002. The decision will not affect a second collaboration with Novartis on CAD106, a project in development to treat patients with Alzheimer's Disease.

Cytos said that the termination of the NIC002 project has no impact on the company's financial and program guidance.

Cytos was founded in 1995 as a spinoff from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The company's lead product candidate, CYT003, is a first-in-class biologic in Phase II clinical development as a possible treatment for allergic asthma.

CYT003 employs a novel, allergen-independent mechanism that selectively suppresses the body's immune response to allergens. In a Phase IIa study, the candidate was shown to maintain lung function and asthma control in patients with persistent allergic asthma.