Immunomic Therapeutics Signs $300 Million Agreement to Develop DNA Vaccine Based on Johns Hopkins Technology
Immunomic Therapeutics is working to develop treatment for a wide range of allergies, including peanut allergies.
Immunomic Therapeutics Inc., which in 2006 bought the license to commercialize the LAMP-vax technology developed by Johns Hopkins researchers, signed a $300 million worldwide licensing agreement in October with Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma to develop treatment for a wide range of allergies, including peanut allergies. It’s the largest licensing deal ever to come out of Johns Hopkins research.
The LAMP (lysosomal associated membrane protein)-vax platform is a next-generation DNA vaccine that recruits the body’s natural biochemistry into developing a complete immune response to an allergen, stopping an allergic reaction in its tracks. Unlike traditional allergy vaccines, which contain allergenic proteins, this vaccine contains protein-encoding DNA with instructions for making the allergenic protein in the body. This is safer than releasing loose, allergenic proteins into the body, Immunomic Therapeutics researchers say.
The body’s response to the vaccine is to treat the allergenic protein like an infection, rapidly disposing of the protein and eradicating the allergy.
The ability to activate a complete immune response—including antibody production, cytokine release and critical immunological memory—gives LAMP-vax technology the potential to fight a number of diseases, including cancer (via immunotherapy) and infectious diseases, as well as allergies. LAMP constructs have been validated in human clinical trials for treating cancer and have been applied to targets including allergy, cancer and infectious diseases. Immunomic Therapeutics’ vision is to develop vaccines for pollen and food allergies, cancer, and animal health.
The researchers who developed the LAMP-vax technology include J. Thomas August, professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins, and Drew Pardoll, director of Johns Hopkins’ Cancer Immunology Program.
“The LAMP-vax platform has enormous potential to broadly impact human health,” says William Hearl, CEO of Immunomic Therapeutics. “Our recent work in developing a new approach to treating allergies could be life-changing for allergy sufferers, including those who are at high risk for a strong reaction to peanut.”
“We are thrilled that this transformative work, another example of Johns Hopkins’ pioneering research, is being further developed with great potential to benefit society at large,” says Neil Veloso, executive director of technology transfer at Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures. “Achieving the successful translation of our technologies enables us to fulfill the promise of our research mission.
“This deal shows the ability of Johns Hopkins technology to be translated into products over time,” he adds. “The work that our inventors do now can lead to future Technology Ventures deals that have the ability to yield the same type of spectacular results.”