Poolbeg Pharma very excited about the potential of University of Warwick deal (LON:POLB)

Poolbeg Pharma plc (LON:POLB) Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Skillington caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the in-licenced novel, first-in-class RNA-based immunotherapy for respiratory virus infections developed at the University of Warwick and the ultimate plan for the deal.

Q1: Jeremy, you’ve signed another deal for an infectious disease asset. Can you just tell us more about that?

A1: We’re building out our pipeline, we’ve talked about last year about having an internal pipeline when we IPO’d in July and now we’re in-licensing very exciting programmes from a variety of sources.

This morning, we in-licensed a novel defective interfering virus from the University of Warwick, this is a very interesting pre-clinical programme that has broad applicability across many different viruses from influenza to RSV to even Coronavirus. So, we’re very excited about the potential here, it’s not just one virus we’re going to be pursuing, it’s several.

So, it’s based on 20 years of work at the University of Warwick, very exciting pre-clinical data showing some efficacy and now we’ll bring it into our pipeline and move it forward very rapidly in a capital light model and get the human data then partner with pharma.

So we’re going to stick with our tried and tested Poolbeg Pharma development and commercialization strategies.

Q2: Can you talk to us about the terms of the deal?

A2: We’ve, again in line with capital light, modest financial terms and we’ll move this forward rapidly into human clinical testing, as I say, in a capital Iight model.

We’re very clever with our development, we’ll get the human data very, very quickly and, as I said, partner with pharma, they like to see human data so we’ll be very efficient with the cash spend on this programme.

Q3: Now, this product is at a late pre-clinical stage, what does that mean?

A3: We’ve a bit of work to do to get it into humans, as I say there’s pretty robust pre-clinical packages I mentioned, there’s efficacy data demonstrated in various animal models so, again, very excited that proof of concept is there.

So, we’ve got some steps to do around manufacturing, they have a process in place and it’s a very stable product, which terrific, and then following that manufacturing, safety in humans and then efficacy. We’ll run a human challenge study, this programme is ideal for that, which again is a very cost effective way of getting early human proof of concept data and then partnering with pharma.

So, we’ve a nice development path ahead of us and it’s clear and well laid out and again, a very exciting asset to put that to the test.

Q4: So, what’s the ultimate plan for this asset?

A4: As I say, as stated at IPO, we’re want to bring in a range of assets and so we’re not going to focus on one so we’re going to have multiple shots on goal and for this one, again, the goal is human data as quickly as possible.

We have a terrific relationship with our colleagues at Open Orphan who run these human challenge studies and we feel this as an ideal programme for that.

Again, we know, we’ve talked to pharma for over the years, we’re all very experienced in the pharma dealmaking space and talking to pharma over the years, they’re very interested in respiratory viral diseases right now because of the pandemic, they want to see what assets they can bring into their pipeline in the future. One of the box checking exercises is human data and I think that Poolbeg Pharma and our capital light model, our capital efficient and speed model, we’ll get that data as quickly as possible and then partnering with pharma.

So, it’s ultimately monetisation to the company will be through pharma deals.

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