Edmonton's Entos partners with California company to help develop gene therapy

Entos Pharmaceuticals has announced a new partnership with BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. to develop its gene therapy candidates.

The University of Alberta spinoff company will use its Fusogenix platform, a nucleic acid delivery system, to develop specially formulated product candidates for BioMarin. The California-based company will then evaluate the potential of the candidates as therapies to prevent or treat genetic diseases.

"We're excited to apply the Fusogenix platform to the next generation of these therapies," John Lewis, CEO of Entos Pharmaceuticals, told Taproot.

BioAlberta named Entos Pharmaceuticals its 2020 Company of the Year on Nov. 16 for its significant achievement within the marketplace and Alberta's business community. Lewis noted in his acceptance speech that the company has grown from a 12-person research and development company into a growing 50-person genetic medicine company.

So far, Entos's Fusogenix technology has been applied to a variety of therapeutic approaches, including vaccines, gene therapy, and gene editing. Lewis said the partnership will accelerate and provide additional opportunities for Entos to incorporate its technology into cutting-edge treatments that could have significant clinical and commercial value.

"We were always intending to go after cancer and rare genetic diseases, so this partnership is an important step toward our efforts to develop novel therapies," he said.

Two white-coated scientists working in the Entos lab

Entos scientist Dr. Ping Wee and chief scientific officer Dr. Arun Raturi at work on the Covigenix COVID-19 DNA vaccine. (Entos Pharmaceuticals)

The data and commercialization skills gained through the partnership could also speed up the process to develop Entos's DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, which is about to start its Phase 2 clinical trial in South Africa, with plans to expand to other regions.

Working with BioMarin will also provide Entos with a platform to showcase its work on a larger scale.

"Partnerships like this show us how Canada can be a key player in the global health economy, with world-class technology from right here in Edmonton being featured on a global stage," Health Cities CEO Reg Joseph said about the announcement on LinkedIn.

As Entos continues to develop novel therapies and its COVID-19 vaccine, Lewis said the goal will be to manufacture both in Alberta.