Roche and Avista ink deal to develop AAV gene therapy vectors for eyes

Avista will apply its single-cell adeno-associated virus (AAV) engineering scAAVengr platform to advance intravitreal AAV capsids, which match capsid profiles defined by Roche.

The deal, of which Avista Therapeutics will receive an upfront payment of $7.5 million and potentially receive further payments that exceed $1 billion if certain milestones are met, aims to co-develop AAV vectors for use in gene therapies that can treat eye diseases.

“Under the terms of the agreement, Avista will be responsible for the design, screening and pool testing of novel AAV capsids with improved functional properties for ophthalmology gene therapy,” Rob Lin, CEO of Avista told BioProcess Insider.

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“Roche can then in-license a pre-specified number of capsids and will be responsible for conducting preclinical, clinical and commercialization activities for gene therapy product candidates using the novel capsid(s).”

According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) spinout Avista, its scAAVengr platform can potentially identify “a toolkit of novel cell specific vectors capable of delivering gene therapy payloads via intravitreal injection to allow treatment of a full range of retinal diseases while reducing immunogenicity, which is a limitation of current vector technology.”

Roche will have the right to license novel capsids from Avista, as well as taking on the responsibility to conduct preclinical, clinical, and commercialization tasks for gene therapy programs using the novel capsids. Furthermore, Avista will retain the rights for all other capsids for use in all indications.

There is no end date to this collaboration and both parties will remain in their own laboratories with Avista keeping its operations in Pittsburgh, US.