GSK and Wave Life Sciences Partner on Genetics

19.12.2022 - British pharma GSK has entered into a four-year collaboration with US clinical-stage genetic medicines company Wave Life Sciences to advance oligonucleotide therapeutics, including Wave’s preclinical RNA-editing program targeting alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), an inherited disorder that can cause lung and liver disease.

Oligonucleotides are short strands of DNA or RNA that can reduce, restore or modulate RNA through several different mechanisms. The partners explained that the unique capability of oligonucleotides to address a wide range of genomic targets in multiple therapeutic areas is enabling new opportunities to treat a range of human diseases, including those where no medicines currently exist or that have historically been difficult to treat with small molecules or biologics.

The collaboration includes two main components. First is a discovery collaboration under which GSK and Wave will advance up to eight and three programs, respectively, leveraging Wave’s proprietary Prism platform.

In addition, GSK gains the exclusive global license for Wave’s preclinical program for AATD called WVE-006, adding a third oligonucleotide to its portfolio. WVE-006 is a first-in-class RNA-editing therapeutic designed to address both liver and lung manifestations of AATD.

“Pairing GSK's genetic expertise with the best-in-class Prism platform enables us to accelerate drug discovery for newly-identified targets, by matching target to modality. The addition of WVE-006 complements more advanced, clinical-phase oligonucleotides in our pipeline, including bepirovirsen for chronic hepatitis B and GSK4532990 for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH),” said GSK’s president and chief scientific officer Tony Wood. Bepirovirsen is now entering Phase 3 trials and GSK4532990 is progressing to Phase 2 for NASH.

The companies also expect to pursue targets across multiple disease areas, given preclinical data that indicates Wave oligonucleotides can distribute to various tissues and cells without complex delivery modes.

Under the terms of the agreement, Wave will receive an upfront payment of $170 million, which includes $120 million in cash and an equity investment of $50 million.

Wave is also eligible to receive up to $525 million in milestone payments for the WVE-006 program, and between $330 million and $375 million in milestone payments for each of GSK’s eight collaboration programs.

The collaboration also includes an option to extend the term for up to three more years, expanding the number of programs available to both partners. The agreement is conditional upon customary conditions, including regulatory approval.

New central London HQ for GSK

In separate news, GSK has decided to locate its new global headquarters in central London, moving in 2024 from its current location in Brentford, in the west of the city. The site is currently under construction and scheduled to complete next year, providing a base for about 3,000 people.

Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist