Pfizer and Visterra inked a collaboration agreement focused on the discovery of therapeutic antibodies based on the latter’s platform for the identification of drug target sites and drug design. Under terms of the deal, which represents Visterra’s first pharmaceutical partnership, the firm will receive an up-front fee and research funding, plus research and development milestones and future sales royalties. “This collaboration further supports the potential utility of Visterra’s antibody design platform, and we look forward to collaborating with Pfizer while we continue to advance Visterra’s own internal product pipeline,” comments Visterra CEO Steven Brugger.
Visterra’s platform is based on the atomic interaction network analyses of proteins. The firm claims the platform enables a more in-depth, three-dimensional structural understanding of proteins to aid identifying unique target epitopes and guide drug design. Lead candidate VIS410 is a monoclonal antibody designed to neutralize all influenza A strains by targeting an early step in the infection cycle that inhibits the entry of the virus into the host cell.
VIS410 has been designed to recognize a conformational epitope on the stem region of the influenza hemagglutinin (HA) protein that is not conserved across all influenza A strains and is resistant to virus mutation. Visterra anticipates that, by targeting this epitope, VIS410 could provide broad-spectrum coverage with the ability to neutralize all key seasonal and pandemic influenza A strains.