Hybrigenics: William Vickery talks about their focus on research and development of new cancer treatments, including prostate cancer.




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Video title: Hybrigenics: William Vickery talks about their focus on research and development of new cancer treatments, including prostate cancer.
Released on: November 30, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to William Vickery, Head of Corporate and Business Development at Hybrigenics
Hybrigenics's dual business model
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO-Europe Duesseldurf, Germany. On this show I have William Vickery, who is Head of Corporate and Business Development at a company called Hybrigenics based in Paris, welcome to the show.
William Vickery:
Hello Fintan, glad to be here.
Fintan Walton:
So Hybrigenics is a publically listed company you can tell us a little bit about that, but also you've got a dual-business model, you've got a pharma side or a drug development side and you've also got a services side, so first of all give us a little bit of the history of Hybrigenics?
William Vickery:
It's great, Hybrigenics was created in 1998 out of technology that was brought by our founders to look at protein interaction and we did our IPO in 2007 we are listed on Alternext now with a market capital of about 16 million Euros and as you correctly described we do have a dual business model, we have pharma activity with development we are developing a vitamin D receptor agonist called Inecalcitol which we are developing for prostate cancer and for psoriasis, we also have a services activity, sorry on the pharma side let me come back to that, we also had some research activity where we are looking at deubiquitinating enzymes focusing on ubiquitin-specific proteases which are sub family of deubiquitinating enzymes we've got some world class research taking place there which recently lead to a deal with Servier [PharmaDeals ID = 43476]. And then on the services side we are working on protein interaction activities enabling pharmaceutical, healthcare, life science companies so very broad range of companies as well as academics to identify protein interactions when they got a protein of interest and that works for things like the agri business as well as the cosmetics industry and the pharmaceutical industry.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so obviously the service side gives you cash flow coming through the business and obviously doing research you have to consume cash?
William Vickery:
That's great, I mean the services business has brought in about 3.7 million Euros of revenues last year, first half of this year was about 1.85 million Euros, so we are progressing very nicely with that it's a profitable business however it is not providing us the cash to do our research and development activities obviously with those amounts you can't fund clinical programs so we are relying on outside cash to do that.
Relevance of ubiquitin to therapy
Fintan Walton:
Okay. So lets just look at the pharma side first of all and you described your clinical lead that you've got currently, but may be just looking at your research base because you in fact you developed a platform if I understand to be which is in the ubiquitin a specific proteases in the broader family which you can describe to us, first of all you know what's the relevance of USP's and DUB's to therapy? What's the connection between ubiquitin and that therapeutic approach?
William Vickery:
Sure, well ubiquitin are is an enzyme that is used in cells to mark proteins for destruction by the proteasome now this marking or flagging mechanism is the dynamic one ubiquitin gets deposited by ligase on proteins and gets removed by USPs ubiquitin-specific proteases or more generally DUBs deubiquiting enzymes, if you can imagine that you block that elimination process that ubiquitin elimination process then you enhance the likelihood of a protein being eliminated by the proteasome and this is very pertinent in the case of an oncolytic protein a protein that will cause a cancer for example where you want to enhance the destruction of that protein rather than keep it alive. So our approach has been to identify protease inhibitors and to block the deubiquitination of the different of the oncolytic proteins and therefore find new therapies for cancer for example, but that can be applied to other diseases as well.
Deal with Servier
Fintan Walton:
Right, so as you said it's even it's relevant to oncology the area of finding new drugs in the area of anti-cancer drugs obviously which are protease inhibitors presumably, so where are you with that program and what stage are you in the development of those particular molecules?
William Vickery:
So we've identified molecules that are specific in particular with USP7 which has been our sort of a flagship program recently so very specific USP inhibitors and now more recently we signed a deal with Servier which bares on all the DUBs space and basically what Servier has done is granted us the access to their all of their research activities in the DUBs space [PharmaDeals ID = 43476].
Fintan Walton:
Right, so you basically and does that include some of their own compounds and molecules?
William Vickery:
So they do the molecule discovery we do the identification of USPs in all of the areas that they work in, so it's not only cancer , it's also for example rheumatology and a variety of other diseases and so we do the target identification, target validation and help with the screening of compounds that they can identify on that they will identify on their site and they will then take those compounds on to develop for development and commercialization.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so just in terms of the finance, can you tell us a little bit about the financial terms that are particularly?
William Vickery:
Sure, in terms of the financials we have an upfront payment, we have yearly research payments as well, so overall for the first three-years of the collaboration which is the right now it has been defined for the research collaboration part we'll receive 4 million Euros and after that we have milestones that are Type II preclinical and clinical development, so milestone payments that in fact to preclinical and clinical events.
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so has Servier basically got access to your platform now?
William Vickery:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
Up and exclusive basis?
William Vickery:
It's in exclusive basis for some of the DUBs we have identified together for the for DUBs that on which we will work exclusively and then they have some priorities rights in the rest of the DUB space, but we have right to work on that outside of the collaboration as well.
Strengths of Hybrigenics in collaborative research and contract manufacturing
Fintan Walton:
Right, very good. So back to your other side of the business the services business, you've mentioned the types of clients you have I mean typically what's your why would a company want to come to Hybrigenics to for you to conduct some collaborative research or some contract research?
William Vickery:
Well the scientist who is looking at a protein needs to better understand how that protein interacts within the tissue that he is interested in with all the other proteins surrounding it and we have a technology based on it's a yeast hybrid-based technology that allows us to identify via all of the interactions that protein may have within the tissue of reference and that finding we can do that very quickly and using our past experience and the data that we've accumulated over the years we can offer a very good level of validation of the interactions that we are seeing, we're very good at separating out what are let's say experimental artifacts from what are real interactions and that is really the value that we bring and what makes us probably one of the leaders in that particular activity not only from the quality perspective but also just from a business standpoint on a global basis.
Fintan Walton:
Right and that's just on a fee-for-service basis?
William Vickery:
That is purely on a fee-for-service basis, so our customer retains all of the IP rights that they've generated and in some cases for very specific customers we've even built some further exclusivity on the type of tissue for example or the type of organism that they want to look at, because you know when you are talking to customers who are really focused on a given activity they're very keen on maintaining an organism for example specific to themselves or a protein specific to themselves.
Lead compound inecalcitol
Fintan Walton:
Okay, just on the lead compounds you've got in the clinic at the moment, could you just give us a quick update on where that is?
William Vickery:
Yes, so that lead compound is inecalcitol so it's a compound that acts on vitamin D receptors and that compound has completed a Phase II study in castrate-resistant prostate cancer and we've recently announced the that this compound was starting a study would be initiating a study in psoriasis a Phase II study in moderate to severe psoriasis, now psoriasis affects 2 to 3% of the world population and moderate to severe psoriasis is about a quarter of that population, moderate to severe psoriasis is defined as body surface coverage of 3 to more than 10% of the body surface affected by psoriasis. So it's a disease which topical treatments are not the most effective option against you need really systemic therapy and here what we have is a compound which acting on vitamin D receptors which have been validated as topical treatments in the past can actually work systemically because our compound is very safe and well tolerated as we've shown in our Phase II study in castrate-resistant prostate cancer .
Advantages of Dual business model
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so then finally just in terms of the dual model is that a model that you would recommend to other biotechnology companies that having the services on a research base, does that actually work?
William Vickery:
I think it works, yes because actually the services activities has helped us to enhance our research activity in a number of cases it also allows us to go through different waves in time periods, there are times when investors like the service activity but don't really like the or not as fond of the research and development, there are other times where they like the development activity and say oh you need to have products in the clinic and are not as fond of service so it allows us to ride those different waves overtime and have different stories for different investors.
Fintan Walton:
Right, but I suppose also it helps you to retain the scientists that you need for both programs to get the results?
William Vickery:
Yes and allows us to do some savings through that group and group part.
Fintan Walton:
Sure. William Vickery, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
William Vickery:
Been a pleasure, thank you very much Fintan.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
William Vickery
Head of Corporate and Business development
At the time of recording this PTV interview William Vickery serves as Head of Corporate and Business Development at Hybrigenics. William joined Hybrigenics in 2010. William works in "business development" in the pharmaceutical industry since 2001, both in the biotech (ExonHit in Paris) in a large pharmaceutical company (Hoffmann La Roche, Switzerland and the USA). During this time he worked on a variety of partnerships and licensing agreements between biotech companies and medium and large academic centers as well. A ExonHit he also led the project team that conducted the Phase 2a study of EHT 0202 (candidate drug against Alzheimer's disease). William holds an MBA from INSEAD and an engineering school of Advanced Studies in Engineering (HEI) in Lille.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
Hybrigenics
Founded in 1997, Hybrigenics is a biopharmaceutical company focusing its research and development programs on innovative targets and therapies against proliferative diseases, cancer or non-cancerous. Hybrigenics also markets in the form of scientific services to its broadband technology platform able to identify, validate and inhibit protein interactions. The development program for the most advanced Hybrigenics based on inecalcitol, a vitamin D analogue, tested in two directions: - the prostate cancer in combination with current standard of care, with the aim of improving the efficacy and safety. - moderate to severe psoriasis. The research program Hybrigenics explores the role of enzymes known as ubiquitin-specific proteases (USP) in the degradation of onco-proteins, and the proprietary USP inhibitors in various types of cancer . In addition, Hybrigenics provides researchers of all sectors of life sciences a range of services so as to implementing the screening platform yeast two-hybrid ( Y2H ) ISO 9001 certified, tools bioinformatics sophisticated, its database of interactions between proteins and its chemicallibrary and chemical screening platform at high speed. Hybrigenics is organized into two business units: Hybrigenics Pharma for its internal R & D and Hybrigenics Services for its business, contact the sake of economies of scale through a branch, administrative and financial community. The central link between all activities Hybrigenics is a belief that science works for life.