- Plasmid and AAV Manufacturing Partnership to Advance Myrtelle’s Novel Gene Therapy for Monogenic Hearing Loss for Phase 1/2 Clinical Trials
WAKEFIELD, Mass., and COLUMBUS, Ohio – October 3, 2022 – Myrtelle Inc., (Myrtelle), a clinical stage gene therapy company focused on developing transformative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, and Forge Biologics, a gene therapy-focused contract development and manufacturing organization, today announced a manufacturing partnership that will advance Myrtelle’s novel gene therapy for monogenic hearing loss, Myr-201, into clinical trials for patients with autosomal recessive deafness 8 (DFNB8).
Forge will provide research-grade and GMP-Pathway plasmid manufacturing services as well as cGMP adeno-associated viral (AAV) process development and scale-up manufacturing services for Myrtelle’s program, Myr-201. The program will utilize Forge’s platform process including its proprietary HEK 293 suspension Ignition Cells™ and pEMBR™ adenovirus helper plasmid. All development and cGMP manufacturing activities will occur at the Hearth, Forge’s 200,000 square foot gene therapy cGMP facility in Columbus, Ohio.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Myrtelle to help them accelerate this novel gene therapy for monogenic hearing loss to patients,” said Timothy J. Miller, Ph.D., CEO, President, and Co-Founder of Forge Biologics. “This collaboration showcases the full end-to-end capabilities Forge is providing to gene therapy clients. We believe that employing our plasmid manufacturing, coupled with our suite of cGMP AAV manufacturing capabilities and expertise, will help support Myrtelle’s gene therapy technology and skills, enabling this novel therapy to reach those who need it the most.”
Myrtelle entered into a worldwide exclusive licensing agreement with Rescue Hearing Inc. (RHI), a private, preclinical stage gene therapy company focusing on diseases affecting human hearing to develop a novel gene therapy for DFNB8 genetic hearing loss that includes low-dose recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) gene therapy delivery of a therapeutic TMPRSS3 (transmembrane protease, serine 3) gene by local administration directly to the inner ear. Across its gene therapy programs, Myrtelle utilizes direct administration of low-dose gene therapy to target key cell types involved in the disorder, thereby avoiding immune-related and off-target effects that can arise with high-dose gene therapy administration delivered systemically. This strategy, currently being developed for Myrtelle’s central nervous system (CNS) programs, can be leveraged to other therapeutic areas outside the CNS, including adjacent and related areas such as the ear where local gene therapy delivery is potentially advantageous for hearing loss disorders such as DFNB8. Preclinical studies in the mouse model of DFNB8-mediated deafness have demonstrated that delivery of a wild type TMPRSS3 gene was able to promote hair cell and neuron survival and improve hearing function.
“This collaboration is an important milestone in Myrtelle’s evolution as we seek to advance our novel gene therapy for monogenic hearing loss which has the potential to become a life-changing genetic medicine,” said Mark Pykett, Chief Executive Officer of Myrtelle. “Partnering with Forge Biologics, a leader in gene therapy manufacturing, and leveraging their AAV expertise, technology, and exceptional facility will support Myrtelle’s development efforts as we move into Phase 1/2 clinical trials with the goal of bringing this transformational therapy to patients in need.”
Individuals with mutations in TMPRSS3 present with two phenotypes: DFNB10-associated hearing impairment that is pre-lingual and DFNB8-associated hearing impairment that is typically late-onset and post-lingual. TMPRSS3 mutations can be divided into mild or severe; the combination of two severe mutations causes profound pre-lingual hearing loss, whereas milder mutations lead to less severe post-lingual hearing loss.
Myrtelle Inc. is a gene therapy company focused on developing transformative treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. The company has a proprietary platform, intellectual property, and portfolio of programs and technologies supporting innovative gene therapy approaches for neurodegenerative diseases. Myrtelle has an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with Pfizer Inc. for its Canavan disease program. For more information, please visit the Company’s website at: www.myrtellegtx.com.
About Forge Biologics
Forge Biologics is a hybrid gene therapy contract manufacturing and clinical-stage therapeutics development company. Forge’s mission is to enable access to life changing gene therapies and help bring them from idea to reality. Forge’s 200,000 square foot facility utilizes 20 cGMP suites in Columbus, Ohio, the Hearth, to serve as its headquarters. The Hearth is a custom-designed cGMP facility focused on AAV manufacturing and can host end-to-end manufacturing services to accelerate gene therapy programs from preclinical through clinical and commercial stage manufacturing. By taking a patients-first approach, Forge aims to accelerate the timelines of these transformative medicines for those who need them the most. To learn more, visit www.forgebiologics.com.
Jordana Holovach – Myrtelle
Head of Communications and Community
Marina Corleto – Forge Biologics
Senior Manager, Marketing and Communications