The exclusive worldwide license agreement signed between the Institut Pasteur and Meletios Therapeutics, a French biotechnology company specializing in the research and development of next-generation antiviral therapies, concerned a technology platform for the generation of Defective Viral Genomes (DVG). DVGs are truncated or rearranged copies of a virus, making these viral sequences non-pathogenic.
This next-generation technological platform has been developed by Marco Vignuzzi, PhD, head of the Viral Populations and Pathogenesis Unit at the Institut Pasteur. It will make it possible to identify DVGs with very specific genomic alterations inhibiting their pathogenic effect in favor of a strong capacity to compete with the parental virus for replication within host cells.
The license agreement with the Institut Pasteur will enable Meletios Therapeutics to generate and develop in collaboration with Marco Vignuzzi, PhD, DVGs derived from Zika virus, an infectious agent that appears by epidemic waves (1.5 million cases during the last epidemic in Brazil in 2015) and can cause very significant neurological damage to fetuses of infected pregnant women; and Chikungunya, a pathology that has infected millions of people since 2005 and can be very painful and cause disabling long-term rheumatological and joint sequels. No effective antiviral treatment exists to date for these two indications.
Marco Vignuzzi and Catherine Martre, CEO of Meletios Therapeutics
"The existence of DVGs was already identified several decades ago in research laboratories; current advances and knowledge now allow us to consider a therapeutic application of this discovery. The application of this method to entire families of viruses constitutes a major advance in the fight against worrying epidemics, for which efficacy of the options available to patients is extremely limited. It is now crucial to develop effective, well-tolerated and easy-to-produce antiviral treatments for the management of these infections" said Marco Vignuzzi, PhD, head of the Viral Populations and Pathogenesis Unit at the Institut Pasteur.
"I am delighted to sign this agreement with Meletios Therapeutics, whose project could help develop and provide patients with new therapeutic solutions for these diseases with a high medical need" added Isabelle Buckle, head of Research Applications and Industrial Partnerships at the Institut Pasteur.