Altesa Biosciences has entered an exclusive global licensing agreement with Vaxart to develop, produce and market the latter’s patented formulation of a clinical-stage antiviral drug, Vapendavir.

A capsid-binding drug, Vapendavir was acquired by Vaxart in 2018 during a merger with Aviragen Therapeutics.

The drug showed activity against a broad spectrum of enteroviruses, along with the potential to fight respiratory infections caused by the human rhinovirus (HRV) in preclinical and clinical trials.

As per the licencing deal, Vaxart will receive payments of up to $130m from Altesa on meeting development and commercial milestones.

Vaxart is also eligible to get tiered royalties ranging between low-single and low-double digits arising from the sale of Vapendavir for various indications.

Vaxart CEO Andrei Floroiu said: “We believe that Vapendavir has lifesaving potential in the treatment of a range of viral infections for which there are currently no approved antivirals.

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“This agreement represents another potential value creation lever for Vaxart, even as Vaxart puts its primary emphasis on the development of oral vaccines.”

A clinical-stage pharma company, Altesa focuses on the development of treatments for ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus infections.

Altesa co-founder and chief science officer Dr George Painter said: “Vapendavir has shown promising preclinical and clinical data demonstrating effective control of certain respiratory viruses and we believe in its potential to help patients suffering from a range of viral infections.”

Vaxart noted that Vapendavir can potentially be used to treat epidemic hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) and HRV infection in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients.

The applications also include various ailments in kids, such as enteroviral infections, seasonal recurrent lower respiratory tract infections in pre-schoolers and seasonal asthma exacerbation in school-age children.

In February, Vaxart reported preliminary data from its Phase I study that showed its oral Covid-19 tablet vaccine candidate, VXA-CoV2-1, triggered multiple immune responses against SARS-CoV-2 antigens.