GenVec is licensing worldwide rights to its preclinical hearing-loss and balance-disorder program to Novartis for $5 million up front. Novartis has also purchased $2 million in GenVec common stock. Preclinical results suggest that delivery of the atonal gene using GenVec's adenovector technology may have the potential to restore hearing and balance function.
In addition, GenVec will receive funding from Novartis for a research program focused on developing additional adenovectors for hearing loss. If certain clinical, regulatory, and sales milestones are met, GenVec is eligible to receive up to $208.6 million plus royalties on future sales.
GenVec is developing TherAtoh to restore hearing or balance function through the regeneration of sensory-hair cells of the inner ear. TherAtoh is an adenovector product delivering the human atonal gene (Hath1), which, during embryonic development, induces the generation of sensory-hair cells. GenVec has shown preclinically that the production of the atonal protein results in the formation of new inner ear sensory hair cells and the restoration of hearing and balance function.
GenVec also uses its adenovector technology to develop vaccines for infectious diseases including influenza, HIV, malaria, foot-and-mouth disease, respiratory syncytial virus, and HSV-2. Furthest along in development is TNFerade™, which is in a Phase III advanced pancreatic cancer study. The drug is designed to be used in combination with radiation and/or chemotherapy and introduces tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), a potent anticancer protein, directly into tumors. TNFerade is also being evaluated for its use in the treatment of other cancers including esophageal cancer, rectal cancer, and head and neck cancer.