At the beginning of 2023, CombiGene’s CEO Jan Nilsson and Zyneyro’s CEO Peter Horn Møller signed a collaboration agreement for the development of new therapies for the treatment of severe chronic pain conditions. Both CEOs have just returned from the world’s largest biotech conference, BIO2023 in Boston. BioStock talked to Jan Nilsson about the purpose of their participation.
In early 2023, Swedish CombiGene and Danish Zyneyro entered into a collaboration to develop more effective treatments for severe temporary and chronic pain conditions. The companies’ joint pipeline consists of the peptide treatment COZY01 and the gene therapy treatment COZY02. By using a completely new mechanism of action, both peptide treatment and gene therapy have the potential to offer effective pain relief.
In its pipeline, CombiGene also has the gene therapy treatment CGT2 for the treatment of the rare disease partial lipodystrophy, and CG01, which is being developed for the treatment of severe drug-resistant focal epilepsy where patients do not reach seizure freedom with today’s treatments.
In 2021, the company made headlines by signing a collaboration and licensing agreement worth up to USD 328.5 million with US-based Spark Therapeutics for the continued development of CG01.
The BIO International Convention is the world’s largest gathering for the biotechnology industry. This year, the convention was held in Boston, Massachusetts on June 5-8 with over 14,000 participants and 5,000 companies. Leaders in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, investors, policymakers and academic researchers attended the event. CombiGene’s CEO Jan Nilsson and Zyneyro’s CEO Peter Horn Møller were also among the participants.
CombiGene’s CEO comments on the participation
Nordic biotech companies often participate in international biotech conferences, usually with the aim of networking with potential partners and clients, and keeping up to date with the latest industry trends and regulatory and policy changes. Or to find talent to hire. To find out why CombiGene and Zyneyro participated, BioStock contacted Jan Nilsson, CEO of CombiGene.
Jan, what was the purpose of your participation at this year’s BIO International Convention?
– The primary purpose was to present CombiGene’s and Zyneyro’s pain program COZY to Big Pharma companies. CombiGene has successfully out-licensed the epilepsy project CG01 to Spark Therapeutics in a deal with a potential value of 328.5 million USD. Our ambition is, of course, to make a corresponding journey with the pain program. Having said that, I would like to point out that deals of this kind are complex processes that take a long time to bring to a successful conclusion. The process begins with establishing a relationship with the potential companies, something that meetings like this provide an opportunity for.
Can you talk about whom you met during BIO2023 and what the discussions led to?
– The short answer is no, I can’t. What I can say is that Peter Horn Møller and I had very positive meetings with several large pharmaceutical companies that view our pain program with interest. We will have a continued dialogue about the pain program with those we met at BIO2023 and we have the long-term ambition to expand the circle of potential partners.
Has potential partners’ view of CombiGene changed since the agreement with Spark and do you think you saw signs of this during the conference?
– Absolutely. The collaboration with Spark has put a very significant stamp of quality on CombiGene’s operations, which means that the immediate interest in our operations is much greater than before.
How is the collaboration with Spark and the development of CG01 progressing?
– Since we out-licensed CG01 to Spark in the autumn of 2021, we have established a very good collaboration and the project is developing well. A few days before BIO2023, I was in Philadelphia to meet with Liz Ramsburg, Head of CNS Research at Spark. Liz and I co-chair the Joint Steering Committee we have established within the framework of the CG01 project. The meeting with Liz was very positive and among other things, we discussed the Joint Steering Committee meeting we will have in Stockholm next week where the teams from Spark and CombiGene will go through the project status and the continued development plan.
Finally, what progress do you hope CombiGene will achieve during the year?
– With the epilepsy project CG01 being licensed to Spark, our focus is primarily on the pain program COZY. This program consists of two separate projects – a peptide therapy and a gene therapy that are based on the same mechanism of action. In the peptide project COZY01, we are approaching the important choices of CDMO partner and CRO partner, i.e. the company that will produce the drug candidate, respectively, the company that will carry out the very important toxicology study program. The toxicological studies will lay the foundation for our continued work towards bringing the peptide project to clinical studies. Within our lipodystrophy project CGT2, we are currently working with complementary studies before we can proceed to the preclinical proof-of-concept study.The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.