Genprex Strengthens Diabetes Gene Therapy Program with License of Additional Technology from University of Pittsburgh
December 15, 2022
Technology for modulating autoimmunity expands intellectual property portfolio
AUSTIN, Texas — (December 15, 2022) — Genprex, Inc. (“Genprex” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: GNPX), a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on developing life-changing therapies for patients with cancer and diabetes, today announced it has entered into an exclusive license agreement (the Agreement) with the University of Pittsburgh, granting Genprex a worldwide, exclusive license to certain patent applications and related technology and a worldwide, non-exclusive license to use certain related know-how, all related to modulating autoimmunity in Type 1 diabetes by using gene therapy. The preclinical technology transforms macrophages enabling them to reduce autoimmune activity in Type 1 diabetes and could be complementary to the Company’s existing diabetes technology.
“Gaining exclusive access to technology that modulates the immune system by transforming macrophages could prove to be significant to our broader research partnership with the laboratory of George Gittes, MD, Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine,” said Mark Berger, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Genprex. “We are making significant strides in our program with Dr. Gittes’s innovative approach to treating diabetes by the transformation of alpha cells into beta-like cells and are excited to add to our arsenal this additional technology also out of Dr. Gittes’s lab, in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Xangwei Xiao, Assistant Professor of Surgery, also in the Division of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine. Not only could this new approach be used to reduce autoimmune activity in Type 1 diabetes by modulating the immune system but potentially it could also work in conjunction with the technology we have licensed previously.”
“With diabetes reaching epidemic proportions around the world, the work Dr. Gittes is pursuing in diabetes is absolutely critical. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 37 million people with diabetes (approximately 1.9 million of whom have Type 1 diabetes) and another approximately 96 million Americans who are pre-diabetic, or have abnormally elevated blood sugar levels. The opportunity to change the course of this disease with gene therapy is extremely compelling, and increasing our exclusive access to intellectual property could prove to be pivotal to our pathway forward,” said Rodney Varner, President and Chief Executive Officer of Genprex.
The Company signed an exclusive license agreement with the University of Pittsburgh in 2020. The gene therapy approach under the original license is comprised of a novel infusion process that uses an endoscope and an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector to deliver Pdx1 and MafA genes directly to the pancreas. In models of Type 1 diabetes, these genes express proteins that transform alpha cells in the pancreas into functional beta-like cells, which can produce insulin but are distinct enough from beta cells to evade the body’s immune system. In Type 2 diabetes, where autoimmunity is not at play, it is believed that exhausted beta cells will be rejuvenated and replenished.
This gene therapy approach was developed by Dr. Gittes. His preclinical research in this area has been published in peer-reviewed scientific publications, and he is the recipient of several research grants, including a $2.59 million grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Earlier studies in diabetic mouse models showed that the gene therapy restored normal blood glucose levels for an extended period of time, typically around four months. It is believed that the duration of restored blood glucose levels in mice could translate to decades in humans. Preliminary data from a more recent study in a non-human primate model of Type 1 diabetes also have been promising. Data from this study are expected to be presented at a scientific meeting during the first quarter of 2023.
About Genprex, Inc.
Genprex, Inc. is a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on developing life-changing therapies for patients with cancer and diabetes. Genprex’s technologies are designed to administer disease-fighting genes to provide new therapies for large patient populations with cancer and diabetes who currently have limited treatment options. Genprex works with world-class institutions and collaborators to develop drug candidates to further its pipeline of gene therapies in order to provide novel treatment approaches. Genprex’s oncology program utilizes its proprietary, non-viral ONCOPREX® Nanoparticle Delivery System, which the Company believes is the first systemic gene therapy delivery platform used for cancer in humans. ONCOPREX encapsulates the gene-expressing plasmids using lipid nanoparticles. The resultant product is administered intravenously, where it is then taken up by tumor cells that express tumor suppressor proteins that are deficient in the body. The Company’s lead product candidate, REQORSA™ (quaratusugene ozeplasmid), is being evaluated as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (with each of these clinical programs receiving a Fast Track Designation from the Food and Drug Administration) and for small cell lung cancer. Genprex’s diabetes gene therapy approach is comprised of a novel infusion process that uses an endoscope and an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector to deliver Pdx1 and MafA genes directly to the pancreas. In models of Type 1 diabetes, the genes express proteins that transform alpha cells in the pancreas into functional beta-like cells, which can produce insulin but are distinct enough from beta cells to evade the body’s immune system. In Type 2 diabetes, where autoimmunity is not at play, it is believed that exhausted beta cells are also rejuvenated and replenished.
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Statements contained in this press release regarding matters that are not historical facts are “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are made on the basis of the current beliefs, expectations and assumptions of management, are not guarantees of performance and are subject to significant risks and uncertainty. These forward-looking statements should, therefore, be considered in light of various important factors, including those set forth in Genprex’s reports that it files from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission and which you should review, including those statements under “Item 1A – Risk Factors” in Genprex’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021.
Because forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding: the timing and success of Genprex’s clinical trials and regulatory approvals, including the extent and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic; the effect of Genprex’s product candidates, alone and in combination with other therapies, on cancer and diabetes; Genprex’s future growth and financial status; Genprex’s commercial and strategic partnerships, including those with its third party manufacturers and their ability to successfully perform and scale up the manufacture of its product candidates; and Genprex’s intellectual property and licenses.
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