PYC Therapeutics (ASX: PYC), a biotechnology company developing a new generation of precision RNA therapeutics to change the lives of patients with inherited diseases, today
announced a first quarter update highlighting the progress of its development pipeline, growth of its U.S. operations and upcoming milestones.
“PYC has had an exciting quarter of progress against our Company objectives. We have achieved continued validation of our PPMO technology in our lead candidate VP-001 for retinitis pigmentosa type 11, further development of our ocular pipeline as well as PYC’s first set of preclinical data from our CNS discovery efforts demonstrating superior delivery of RNA therapeutic throughout the brain and spinal cord. The potential of our pioneering PPMO technology is vast and we look forward to advancing this technology to provide solutions for patients with inherited ocular and neurodegenerative diseases for whom treatment options are either limited or unavailable today,” said Sahm Nasseri, U.S. Chief Executive Officer of PYC Therapeutics.
Nasseri added, “This quarter, we also expanded our U.S. operations with key leadership appointments and engagements with the U.S. biotech ecosystem, underscoring the significant steps we are taking towards our transformational goal of becoming a multi-asset clinical stage biotechnology company. PYC is well positioned to maintain this momentum into the second quarter of 2021 with important larger animal studies commencing for VP-001, deeper development of VP-002 and into the balance of 2021 with continued development of our pipeline in both the eye and the CNS.”
“This is a transformational time for PYC. For some time, we’ve had significant excitement in our PPMO technology’s potential for impact in treating numerous genetic and acquired diseases and it’s truly humbling to see that excitement being translated into results through both our lead program development, and our technology’s continued validation,” commented Alan Tribe, Chairman of PYC Therapeutics.
Inherited Ocular Diseases:
- Demonstrated key functional improvement in patient-derived models for VP-001, PYC’s lead candidate for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa type 11 (RP11), building further confidence that VP-001 will have meaningful clinical impact for patients. The Company announced preclinical results in March showing that VP-001 restored function of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), the structure that provides the critical blood-retinal barrier in healthy eyes and is compromised in patients with RP11. VP-001 is the first and only treatment to demonstrate restoration of this crucial barrier function in patient-derived models1, a critical readout that demonstrates correction of an underlying pathology in the disease, and one that differentiates VP-001 from adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivered DNA therapies. These results build on PYC’s additional preclinical research last year demonstrating the effectiveness of VP-001 in preclinical models to upregulate PRPF31, the critical protein deficient in patients with RP11. PYC expects to report results from important larger animal tolerability studies in the middle of 2021, with the goal of submitting an Investigational New Drug (IND) application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in mid 2022.
- Progressed development of VP-002 for the treatment of autosomal dominant optic atrophy (ADOA). There is currently no approved therapy for ADOA, a disease affecting approximately 30 thousand patients in the western world, with an estimated 9 to 16 thousand of which could potentially be addressable by VP-0022. PYC expects to report results from patient-derived models in the first half of 2021. These results when combined with the validation of PYC’s PPMO technology in the eye, anticipated from VP-001’s larger animal studies starting in late 1H 2021, will form a strong basis for the VP-002 program. The data being generated have the potential to enable a streamlined development and regulatory pathway for VP-002. PYC anticipates to share additional VP-002 efficacy and safety data across the balance of 2021.
- Advanced our ocular pipeline including proof of concept work with PYC-001 for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy (DR). PYC is cultivating a rich pipeline of novel development candidates to address additional ocular diseases. The Company expects to unveil additional development candidates for the treatment of high unmet need ocular indications during 2021.
Central Nervous System (CNS) Diseases:
- Demonstrated superior ability of PPMO technology to deliver high levels of RNA therapeutic throughout the brain. In April, PYC announced preclinical results demonstrating its PPMO technology has significant potential to provide therapies for patients with neurodegenerative diseases. This is an important expansion of the application of PYC’s technology beyond the eye. The Company expects to nominate a candidate targeting a high unmet need neurodegenerative condition in 2021. Delivery is important for neurodegenerative disease medicines because insufficient depth of penetration and delivery to target cells has been a cause in preventing drugs from having a meaningful impact without causing significant toxicity. Superior delivery and a better short- and long-term safety profile in preclinical models for PYC’s PPMOs could translate to a higher probability of clinical success and ultimately the creation of truly differentiated and meaningful medicines for CNS patients with significant unmet need. Over 50 million people globally suffer from a neurodegenerative disease, with over 3 million people suffering from rarer neurodegenerative disease such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Huntington’s disease3. PYC’s PPMO technology is uniquely placed to intervene meaningfully in the RNA dysregulation that characterizes many of these disease processes.
- Expanded U.S.-based management team, including independent Directors, with biopharma industry veterans with expertise in ocular, RNA and other therapeutic development. PYC appointed Glenn Noronha, PhD, as Chief Development Officer, joining the U.S.-based management team of Sahm Nasseri, U.S. CEO, and Kaggen Ausma, Chief Business Officer, who relocated to the U.S. in early 2021 from Perth. Dr. Noronha oversees PYC’s translational clinical development, regulatory, manufacturing and preclinical development activities, laying the foundation for VP-001 to advance into the clinic and to initiate evaluation in patients with RP11. PYC also appointed two U.S.-based Board Directors, Jason Haddock and Michael Rosenblatt, MD, who bring decades of combined experiences and integral knowledge in biotechnology clinical development and financial and commercial operations.
- Continued to grow U.S. development capabilities and access to capital markets. A key enabler for PYC to unlock the full potential of its PPMO technology has been to deeply engage with the U.S. biotech ecosystem in order to access critical drug development capabilities and also to establish PYC as an RNA therapeutics leader amongst potential partners and sophisticated biotech focused investors. In the first quarter, PYC’s management was invited to present alongside other industry leaders at several healthcare and investor conferences. The Company expects to establish a West Coast location for its U.S. corporate headquarters this year, which will complement the continued drug discovery and scientific research hub in Perth.
- Holds strong cash position to support program discovery and development and continued U.S. expansion. PYC ended March 2021 with $41 million in cash and cash equivalents. Based on its current operating plans, and considering the Australian R&D tax rebate, this provides the Company with a multi-year cash runway enabling a very strong foundation for execution of both Corporate and Program objectives.
“We continue to execute on the strategic goals we laid out to advance our transformation from an Australia-based discovery-focused organization into an Australia and U.S.-based multi-asset clinical stage biotechnology company,” continued Mr. Nasseri, U.S. CEO of PYC. “We look forward to sharing continued progress this year, including achieving our preclinical data milestones for all three of our defined programs in ocular diseases and announcing our CNS candidate, as we further validate our PPMO technology platform across indications to develop treatments for patients with a range of significant unmet needs.”