FIT Biotech said today its Gene Transport Unit (GTU®) technology will be studied with Ichor Medical Systems’ TriGrid® electroporation system under a research collaboration designed to develop new cost-effective treatments for infectious disease.

The collaboration—whose value was not disclosed—is designed to develop an infectious disease product platform capable not only of addressing currently circulating infectious pathogens but also emerging diseases with the potential to cause worldwide pandemics, FIT said.

The companies reason that their technologies can deliver rapid and sustained production of highly active antibodies from a recipient’s own cells. Should test results prove successful, the companies plan to use GTU and TriGrid in further testing within Ichor’s internal monoclonal antibody studies, as well as other development programs, FIT added.

“The collaboration is [a] significant step forward in our new strategy, which is based on applying GTU® technology to gene-based therapies,” FIT CEO Rabbe Slätis said in a statement. “Future success of this approach may position the technologies favorably for use in other broad-spectrum biodefense and pandemic applications.”

According to FIT, GTU enables expression of genes of interest in a population of proliferating cells for extended periods of time, taking advantage of the viral function for partitioning provided by the E2 protein and multimeric E2 binding sites.

GTU is already used by FIT in several of its drug-development programs, led by the Phase IIa human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) immunotherapy being developed by a consortium that includes the company. The technology is also being applied by FIT in a preclinical cancer gene therapy and several preclinical vaccines for animal diseases, Ebola, human papillomavirus (HPV), tuberculosis, and multiple biodefense agents.

TriGrid is an electrode array system designed for intramuscular and intradermal delivery of DNA drugs and vaccines in disease indications that include melanoma, hepatitis infection, HIV, and HPV.

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