VeraDermics Inc. Secures Licensing of First-in-Class Antiviral Targeting the Treatment of Molluscum Contagiosum and other Poxviruses
WEST HARTFORD, CONN. (PRWEB) AUGUST 23, 2022
VeraDermics Incorporated, developer of drugs for dermatology, today announced that it has entered into a definitive license agreement with the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) for patent rights covering a newly developed compound for the specific treatment of molluscum contagiosum developed by Penn and Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, Inc. (FCCDC) – adding to VeraDermic’s growing dermatology portfolio. The lead compound identification reflects nearly a decade of research by leading experts in poxvirus replication led by Robert Ricciardi, Ph.D., Chair of Basic and Translational Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, and Allen Reitz, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, and Rick Scott, Ph.D., VP, Research, of FCCDC.
The lead pre-clinical compound, VDMC-7269, is a potent replication inhibitor designed to block the poxvirus that causes molluscum contagiousum. The licensing of VDMC-7269 demonstrates VeraDermics’ continued commitment to dermatology and to targeting dermatologic conditions lacking in FDA approved therapeutics. VeraDermics intends to bring VDMC-7269 to the clinic with molluscum contagiosum as the lead indication for development.
"As a dermatologist, molluscum contagiosum is one of the most frustrating-to-treat conditions that I encounter in my clinical practice,” said Tim Durso, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of VeraDermics. “Molluscum primarily affects young children, and many existing treatment options are poorly tolerated by this patient population. If approved, an effective topical treatment for molluscum contagiosum could result in a paradigm shift in the treatment of this condition which affects millions of patients every year."
Molluscum contagiosum affects approximately 6 million Americans, the majority of whom are younger than 14 years of age. It is one of the most common reasons that children visit a pediatric dermatologist. Despite its prevalence, there are no FDA-approved prescription treatments for the condition. While existing treatments are often designed to be locally destructive (e.g. cryotherapy, cantharidin) or utilize non-specific antiviral properties, VDMC-7269 is specifically designed to target molluscum virus replication. Targeting a specific protein in the molluscum viral replication process that is structurally distinct from its human counterpart is expected to give VDMC-7269 a wide therapeutic window when treating patients.
"We have been working on developing novel antivirals for the treatment of the poxviruses such as molluscum contagiosum together with Prof. Robert Ricciardi of the University of Pennsylvania since 2014,” said Allen Reitz, P.h.D., Chief Executive Officer of FCCDC. “This work includes the discovery of VDMC-7269, whose activity is particularly exciting because it represents a defined molecular target to treat the disease. Preclinical data suggest VDMC-7269 is a potent inhibitor of viral replication and is suitable for topical use. We are very excited that VeraDermics will advance this program further because molluscum contagiosum is currently undertreated and represents a large commercial opportunity." Dr. Rick Scott of FCCDC was the Principal Investigator on the key Phase II Small Business Innovation Research Grant (SBIR) grant from the NIH that enabled the successful completion of this project, including the discovery of VDMC-7269.
"The discovery of VDMC-7269 involved identifying a novel method for screening this drug as well as using genetic and structure-guided approaches coupled with medicinal chemistry to identify and target a protein essential for replication of molluscum contagiosum virus," says Dr. Ricciardi "This work entailed the talents and strong collaboration of scientists from both the University of Pennsylvania and FCCDC. I am very pleased that VeraDermics, with its dedication and strong expertise in dermatological drugs, will be moving the development of VDMC-7269 in the direction of clinical application."
By adding VDMC-7269 to its pipeline, VeraDermics aims to create a best-in-class treatment for molluscum contagiosum.
"The poxvirus antiviral development program is the perfect addition to VeraDermics’ existing dermatology pipeline, and is consistent with our team’s vision to leverage our end-user knowledge as board-certified dermatologists to identify therapeutics that address key unmet needs in our field,” said Reid Waldman, M.D., Chief Operating Officer at VeraDermics. “If approved, this product candidate and the remainder of our pipeline can benefit from the synergy of a shared salesforce in dermatology. We are very excited to have the opportunity to develop such a promising asset based on nearly a decade of hard work from our colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center."
Research that led to the development of licensed patent rights was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R44AI125005 and R41AI162385.
About VeraDermics Inc.
VeraDermics Inc. is a dermatology-focused pharmaceutical company with a pipeline of patient-friendly therapeutics aimed at helping individuals affected by skin diseases. VeraDermics portfolio includes therapeutics addressing common warts, genital warts, alopecia areata, molluscum contagiosum, and beyond .
About Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center
Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center, Inc. (FCCDC) is based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, USA at the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center and is affiliated with the Pennsylvania Drug Discovery Institute (PDDI). FCCDC conducts early-stage drug discovery research including target validation, medicinal chemistry, in vitro pharmacology, and ADME characterization. FCCDC’s goal is to transition innovative biomedical research technologies into fully-fledged drug discovery and development programs for evaluation in human clinical trials and eventual commercialization. Please visit fc-cdci.com.