Ichor Medical Systems (Ichor) recently announced it has joined a product advancement collaboration and license agreement with Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Janssen). Both parties will be working together to advance and market DNA-based vaccine products to treat patients with chronic hepatitis B clinically administered through the Company’s TriGrid™ electroporation technology. Ichor will be receiving R&D development and support, an upfront payment and additional sales payments up to a total of $85 million, as well as royalty payments resulting from any licensed product sales in the future. Janssen will take responsibility for development and commercialization costs that might result from the program such as for distribution and manufacturing expenses for Ichor’s TriGrid Delivery System.
Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that can result in death if left untreated. There are currently more than two billion people alive and infected with the HBV. There are more than 240 million people in the world carrying the virus, remaining chronically infected. Currently available treatments rarely eliminate the virus and are frequently associated with serious adverse reactions.
DNA vaccines are capable of generating antigen-specific antibodies and T cells crucial to treat the HBV infection over the long-term. However, the effectiveness of DNA vaccines when delivered through the conventional injection approach yields poor results. Electroporation — the technology behind Ichor’s TriGrid drug delivery system — is a strong and effective method to deliver vaccines. It uses weak electrical pulses to alter cell membranes and to ease the entrance of DNA into cells. The TriGrid Delivery System by Ichor is currently under testing in clinical trials, becoming the first integrated and completely automated technology to be used in humans and for electroporation-mediated DNA administration. Previous assessments evidenced that the TriGrid can significantly enhance immune responses and the delivery of vaccines if compared to the conventional approaches such as via ordinary injection.
“Janssen’s decision to couple our clinically validated TriGrid electroporation technology with their DNA vaccine for HBV is extraordinarily exciting for Ichor. Our scientists and engineers look forward to this opportunity to collaborate with Janssen in the development of immunotherapies for patients suffering from chronic hepatitis B infection,” concluded the Ichor CEO and Founder Robert Bernard.