Immunomic Therapeutics, a company developing next-generation vaccines based on the LAMP-vax platform headquartered in Hershey, Pa., and Astellas Pharma of Tokyo have entered into an exclusive license agreement for Japan to develop and commercialize JRC2-LAMP-vax, Immunomic Therapeutics' vaccine designed to treat allergies induced by Japanese red cedar pollen. The companies expect to initiate a phase I trial of JRC2-LAMP-vax in Japan as soon as it is ready.
Astellas is responsible for developing and commercializing JRC2-LAMP-vax in Japan, where Japanese red cedar pollinosis is endemic. Immunomic Therapeutics will receive $15 million upon the execution of the agreement. Immunomic Therapeutics potentially also will receive up to $55 million in total development and regulatory milestone and technology transfer payments, as well as tiered double-digit royalties on net sales of the product.
Astellas will fund clinical trial development costs and supporting development expenses for Japan. Immunomic Therapeutics also granted Astellas an exclusive option to negotiate a license for additional LAMP-vax DNA vaccines to treat allergy indications other than Japanese red cedar pollinosis in Japan.
The Japanese red cedar tree is an economically and culturally important tree in Japan; however, its pollen has resulted in the sensitization of an estimated 26.5% of the Japanese population, significantly increased from 16.2% as of 1998. During pollen season, each tree can produce up to
2kg of pollen that readily disperses over vast areas. The pollen is believed to deliver a two-part allergenic punch: the pollen surface is coated with highly allergenic Cry j 1 protein and upon contact with a mucosal surface, the pollen grain lyses to release abundant Cry j 2 protein contained within the pollen grain.
Current treatments for Japanese red cedar pollinosis are palliative and require long-term, costly treatment options. The market opportunity for JRC2-LAMP-vax is to provide long-lasting symptom relief in a short, convenient dosing regimen.