BioWorld International Correspondent

PARIS Synt:em and Corixa Corp. signed a nonexclusive licensing agreement, granting the U.S. company the right to use Synt:em’s Pep:trans vectorization technology for the development of novel vaccines.

Pep:trans is an engineering system that helps compounds reach their targets across complex biological membranes, including cellular membranes. Seattle-based Corixa specializes in the development of immunotherapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, cancer and infections diseases, and will use the technology in combination with its proprietary antigens to develop vaccines that protect against infection and cancer.

The financial terms were not disclosed, but Synt:em, of N mes, already has received license fees from Corixa and also will receive milestone payments, as well as royalties on future sales and a share of any income earned by Corixa under sublicensing agreements for vaccines using Pep:trans vectors. Synt:em’s CEO, Michel Kaczorek, told BioWorld International that the deal would be worth millions of dollars to the company over several years.

He pointed out that the two companies have been collaborating for one-and-a-half years. During that time, Corixa tested the feasibility of applying Pep:trans to three of its proprietary antigens, “some of which were successful,” Kaczorek said. The agreement now signed makes their relationship “a real deal.”

Kaczorek added that the licensing agreement was flexible, but set a limit on the number of antigens Corixa could test, applying a “notion of package. My personal opinion is that they could test around a dozen antigens over three to four years.”

Pep:trans enables the pharmacological properties of drug candidates to be modified and optimized by linking them to peptide vectors. It consists of a set of peptide vectors that can be linked to a wide range of molecules, including large or hydrophilic molecules that cannot normally enter the cell unaided, thus creating a novel therapeutic molecule that can be effectively internalized. It also improves the uptake of therapeutics into cells, enabling them to interact optimally with intracellular targets.

Synt:em, which applies the technology to its in-house drug development programs for the central nervous system, uses Pep:trans to deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier. Kaczorek stressed that the collaboration with Corixa “demonstrates the broad utility of Pep:trans technology, since it is now being applied in the delivery of vaccine antigens into immune cells.”