Market Overview

Vir Biotechnology Builds Pipeline, Capabilities, and Lays Out Strategy to Address Serious Infectious Diseases

Share:

-- Expands technology and global footprint with acquisition of Humabs
BioMed SA

-- Accesses clinical and preclinical stage assets from Alnylam, Visterra

-- Total financing to date exceeds $500 million

Vir Biotechnology, Inc. today announced agreements with Humabs BioMed
SA, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALYN), and Visterra, Inc., as
well as four leading academic research institutions. Together with the
company's internal research and development capabilities, these
achievements provide the foundation on which Vir will pursue its mission
of transforming the care of people with serious infectious diseases. To
support these efforts, Vir has secured financing to date of more than
$500 million.

Strategic Focus

Vir integrates diverse innovations in science, technology, and medicine
to transform the care of people with serious infectious diseases. Vir is
taking a multi-program, multi-platform approach to applying these
breakthroughs, including the development of treatments that induce
protective and therapeutic immune responses. Vir's scale and scope,
together with leading scientific and management expertise, allow it to
perform significant internal R&D, in-license or acquire innovative
technology platforms and assets, and fund targeted academic research.

The company's initial focus is in three areas of significant unmet need: chronic
infectious diseases
including hepatitis B (HBV), tuberculosis (TB),
and HIV; respiratory diseases, including influenza, respiratory
syncytial virus (RSV), and metapneumovirus (MPV); and health-care
acquired infections
.

"Vir is a science-driven company. We are building outstanding internal
R&D, which we have coupled with nimble business development, to
establish a diversified technology base as well as an exciting
pipeline," said George A. Scangos, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer. "We
expect to move several compounds into clinical development in the next
18 months and we have an option to acquire a portion of a Phase 2
compound targeting flu. We also continue to evaluate several near-term
opportunities to acquire additional mid- and late-stage clinical
compounds, as well as expand our technology base even further. We have
hired an experienced management team and built internal technology
development capabilities required for the production of biological
products. I am pleased that in our first year we have been able to align
leading ideas, technology, and expertise focused on transforming the
care of people with serious infectious diseases and providing a return
to our investors."

Agreement Details

  • Vir has acquired Humabs BioMed SA, a Swiss company focused on
    discovering and developing fully human monoclonal antibodies to treat
    serious infections. Humabs' proprietary technology enables the rapid
    isolation and development of antibodies that have passed natural
    selection by the human immune system in response to viral and
    bacterial diseases. The acquisition adds more than 15 antibody
    development candidates, including promising pre-clinical antibodies
    for the treatment of HBV, RSV/MPV, Zika, and Dengue, a proprietary
    antibody discovery platform, and antibody engineering capabilities to
    Vir's portfolio. Humabs and its employees will continue to operate the
    Humabs facilities in Bellinzona, Switzerland and maintain its
    productive research collaboration with the Institute for Research in
    Biomedicine.
  • Vir and Visterra, Inc. have entered into an exclusive research
    collaboration, license, and option agreement covering up to six
    antibodies to treat infectious diseases. Under the agreement, Vir has
    an option to partner with Visterra on the development and
    commercialization of VIS410, an antibody currently in Phase 2 clinical
    trials for the treatment of influenza A in hospitalized patients,
    including a cost and profit sharing arrangement and co-promotion
    rights in certain territories. Vir and Visterra will also advance
    three infectious disease antibodies developed with Visterra's novel
    Hierotope technology, including antibodies against influenza, RSV, and
    fungal infections. Under the agreement, Vir may initiate two
    additional research programs to develop antibodies against pathogens
    of its choosing. Details of this transaction were announced by
    Visterra today.
  • Vir and Alnylam have entered into an exclusive license and
    collaboration agreement covering up to five RNAi therapeutics programs
    for the treatment of infectious diseases. The companies will advance
    ALN-HBV02 for the treatment of HBV jointly and Alnylam will retain an
    option to participate in commercialization of the product. In
    addition, Alnylam will develop RNAi products for up to four additional
    infectious disease targets of Vir's choosing, and Vir will have the
    option to further develop any resulting product candidates. Details of
    this transaction were announced by Alnylam today.
  • Vir and Stanford University have entered into a license agreement. The
    license will support the company's efforts to use artificial
    intelligence to mine gene expression data for early diagnostic
    predictions and target discovery.
  • Vir and Harvard University have entered into a five-year strategic
    research alliance. The agreement, initiated with Harvard's Office of
    Technology Development, fosters scientific collaboration and provides
    financial support for innovative research projects in infectious
    diseases, to which Vir will have exclusive access to negotiate
    licenses.
  • Vir has expanded its relationship with OHSU of Portland, Oregon, to
    include additional sponsored research. OHSU remains a key partner in
    the development of Vir's CMV vaccine platform.
  • Vir and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have entered into a
    sponsored research agreement focused on cell therapy.

Together, these partnerships significantly expand Vir's capabilities,
building on its previously acquired cytomegalovirus (CMV)-based
technologies from TomegaVax. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which
made an equity investment in Vir in December 2016 to support the
company's CMV-based HIV and tuberculosis vaccine programs, is expected
to provide funding to execute these programs.

John Maraganore, Chief Executive Officer of Alnylam, commented: "Vir
represents a unique opportunity for us to partner promising assets with
a company completely focused on serious infectious diseases, and we
believe this alliance offers a significant strategic advantage as we
work to leverage our RNAi-based technologies against this therapeutic
need."

Leadership & Governance

In addition to CEO George Scangos, Vir's leadership team consists of
seasoned leaders in their respective fields. The team includes Howard
Horn, Chief Financial Officer; Michael Kamarck, Ph.D., Chief Technology
Officer; Brian Kelley, SVP, Process Development; Christian Mandl, Ph.D.,
M.D., SVP, RNA Technologies; Phil Pang, M.D., Ph.D., SVP Clinical
Development; Jay Parrish, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer; and Alpna Seth,
Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer.

The company's Board of Directors is chaired by Vicki Sato, Ph.D., and
its directors include Robert Nelsen, Kristina Burow, Tom Daniel, M.D.,
Klaus Frueh, Ph.D., Bob More, Deep Nishar, Rob Perez, George Scangos,
Ph.D., and Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D.

The company's Scientific Advisory Board includes:

  • Jeff Bluestone, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Parker Institute for
    Cancer Immunotherapy and the A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen
    Distinguished Professor of Metabolism and Endocrinology at the
    University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Medicine;
  • Larry Corey M.D., Principal Investigator of the HIV Vaccine Trials
    Network (HVTN) based at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and
    previously the President and Director of the Fred Hutch;
  • Mark Davis, Ph.D., Avery Family Chair of Immunology and Director of
    the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection at the
    Stanford University School of Medicine;
  • Emilio Emini, Ph.D., Director of the HIV program at the Bill & Melinda
    Gates Foundation and former senior vice president of vaccine research
    and development at Pfizer Inc.;
  • Louis J. Picker, M.D., Associate Director of the Vaccine and Gene
    Therapy Institute at OHSU and Professor of Pathology/Molecular
    Microbiology and Immunology in the OHSU School of Medicine; and
  • George Poste, DVM, Ph.D., Director of the Complex Adaptive Systems
    Initiative at Arizona State University and former President of
    Research and Development at SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline).

Financial Backing

The company was founded by Robert Nelsen and ARCH Venture Partners and
seeded by ARCH, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Altitude Life
Science Ventures, and Alta Partners.

"Since we launched less than a year ago," said Managing Director and
co-founder of ARCH Robert Nelsen, "Vir has rapidly become the leading
place to go with innovations in infectious disease whether you are an
academic, a biotech, or a pharmaceutical company."

Additional investors include the SoftBank Vision Fund, Temasek, Baillie
Gifford, the Alaska Permanent Fund, and select sovereign wealth funds,
private individuals, family offices, and institutional investors.

Deep Nishar, SoftBank Investment Advisers Senior Managing Partner, who
has joined the Vir Board of Directors, said: "Vir is creating a platform
to cure multiple infectious diseases and aiming to provide vaccines and
treatments that are not currently available. We believe the combination
of Vir's ground-breaking novel scientific strategy, coupled with the use
of cutting-edge data science, and experienced and proven management
team, should eventually lead to new solutions for the world's most
challenging infectious diseases. Investing in Vir is consistent with the
Vision Fund's overall strategy to support companies and technologies
that are revolutionizing industries and driving innovation."

Global Impact of Infectious Disease

Chronic and acute infections impact hundreds of millions of people every
year. For example, according to the World Health Organization (WHO),
there are about 260 million people in the world living with HBV
infection, with millions of new infections annually. Millions also
contract seasonal influenza, resulting in three to five million severe
cases and between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths globally. In the U.S.
alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates
that the number of influenza-related deaths has ranged from 12,000
(2011-2012) to more than 50,000 (2012-2013), and the potential for a
pandemic flu outbreak continues to be a priority for the CDC.

About Vir

Vir integrates diverse innovations in science, technology, and medicine
to transform the care of people with serious infectious diseases. Vir is
taking a multi-program, multi-platform approach to applying these
breakthroughs, including the development of treatments that induce
protective and therapeutic immune responses. Vir's scale and scope,
together with leading scientific and management expertise, allow it to
perform significant internal R&D, in-license or acquire innovative
technology platforms and assets, and fund targeted academic research.
The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California, with
operations in Portland, Oregon, Boston, Massachusetts, and Bellinzona,
Switzerland. To learn more, visit www.vir.bio
and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/vir_biotech

View Comments and Join the Discussion!