Vivek Ramaswamy's LNP delivery tech play Genevant scores $600M licensing deal from Takeda for nucleic acid therapies
With mRNA vaccines in high demand and new RNA therapeutics crowding onto the market, the demand for lipid nanoparticles has never been higher. Now, one of serial entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy’s Vant outfits has scored a big deal with Takeda to develop LNP-delivered liver drugs.
The Japanese drugmaker will earmark $600 million for a licensing deal with Genevant, an LNP delivery tech outfit, to develop nucleic acid therapies for liver fibrosis, the companies said Monday.
The partnership will laser in on “previously inaccessible” targets in hepatic stellate cells using Genevant’s LNP delivery system. The pact also stipulates royalties on future sales.
Genevant, one of the companies in Ramaswamy’s extensive Vant universe, coalesced in April 2018 around the idea of delivering advanced RNA therapies with LNP technology sourced from Arbutus Biopharma. That tech, which Arbutus out-licensed to Alnylam for its FDA-approved Onpattro (patisiran), allows drugmakers to package RNA therapies within small lipid capsules that can be more easily circulated in the blood.
In January, Genevant reached a deal with Gritstone Oncology to license out its LNP tech for a suite of “self amplifying RNA” vaccines for Covid-19. Gritstone agreed to dole out $192 million in future payouts as part of the agreement.
Lipid nanoparticles have been in increasingly high demand as more and more RNA therapeutics hit the market and as a suite of Covid-19 vaccines continue to notch approvals. Of those, both Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna use LNP to deliver their vaccines, which has put an enormous strain on the raw materials and intermediates markets to keep up with demand.
LNPs are crucial for delivering those vaccines because they help protect often volatile mRNA as it makes its way into human cells. In response to chronic shortages, drugmakers are tapping contract manufacturers to rapidly scale supply.
In February, Germany’s BioNTech tapped Merck KGaA to “significantly accelerate” production for their LNP supply agreement. Merck KGaA said it’s handling contract work for around 50 separate vaccine programs although not all of those use LNP.