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Virdante Granted Key U.S. Patent Related to Sialic Switch Technology for Identifying Anti-Inflammatory Compounds

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Cambridge, MA -- Virdante Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted a key patent that supports the Company’s “Sialic Switch” technology for improving the anti-inflammatory activity of antibody-based drugs to treat autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Virdante’s Sialic Switch technology is based on the principle of activating a novel anti-inflammatory pathway by specifically sialylating Fc-linked glycans of IgG antibodies.

US Patent 7,846,744, titled, “Methods of Identifying Anti-Inflammatory Compounds,” covers the use of human receptor DC-SIGN (or mouse SIGN-R1) to screen for drugs that either suppress or activate anti-inflammatory activity. Jeffrey Ravetch, M.D., Ph.D., of The Rockefeller University and Virdante’s scientific founder, previously discovered that DC-SIGN binds a sialylated Fc fragment of IgG antibodies that is required for the anti-inflammatory activity of plasma-derived intravenous immune globulin (“IVIG”). This binding interaction is thought to initiate a pathway in which sialylated IgG promotes an anti-inflammatory state.

“This patent provides important validation for our proprietary Sialic Switch technology, and provides an additional level of protection for the novel antibody-based drug development programs ongoing at Virdante,” said John Ripple, Chief Executive Officer of Virdante. “We are focused on continuing to advance our lead sIVIG development candidate toward clinical trials as the first step in achieving human proof of concept for the broad applications of our Sialic Switch technology.”

Virdante’s sIVIG and sFc Development Programs

Virdante’s lead program, sIVIG, applies Sialic Switch technology to increase the anti-inflammatory potency of plasma-derived IVIG. Virdante believes that this novel approach reduces the time to administer a therapeutic dose from days to hours. IVIG is used to treat inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, representing over $4 billion in worldwide revenues in 2008.

Virdante plans to pursue development of a second drug, a sialylated recombinant IgG Fc fragment (“sFc”), the segment of IgG responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity of IVIG. In addition, Virdante plans to expand the application of its Sialic Switch technology to improve the potency of important anti-inflammatory antibodies such as anti-TNF drugs.

About Sialic Switch Technology

Virdante’s proprietary Sialic Switch technology increases the anti-inflammatory activity of antibody-based drugs by enhancing signaling via a novel pathway. Dr. Jeffrey Ravetch, the Company’s scientific founder and professor at The Rockefeller University and a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, discovered that this novel anti-inflammatory pathway is activated by specifically sialylated Fc-linked glycans of IgG antibodies. This discovery was based on the observation that only a minor fraction of the pooled IgG molecules in IVIG is responsible for the therapeutic anti-inflammatory properties of the drug due to specific sialic acid linkages on their Fc-linked glycans. Virdante has exclusively licensed the Sialic Switch technology from The Rockefeller University and established a strategic research alliance with Dr. Ravetch's laboratory to continue to explore this novel anti-inflammatory pathway. Dr. Ravetch has further shown that these anti-inflammatory properties can be reproduced with sFc, a fully recombinant preparation of appropriately sialylated IgG Fc fragments, providing a more efficacious and potent treatment at lower dose levels. Virdante is using enzymatic methods to apply the Sialic Switch technology to antibody-based therapeutics. References on the Sialic Switch technology can be found on Virdante’s website,

About Virdante

Virdante Pharmaceuticals is developing safer and more effective drugs for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Our products incorporate a proprietary “Sialic Switch” technology to improve the anti-inflammatory properties of therapeutic antibodies. Virdante is applying this technology to develop novel therapeutics optimized for greater anti-inflammatory effect. Our lead product candidate is sIVIG, enzymatically sialylated plasma-derived intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). The second generation product is sFc, a fully recombinant product of sialylated IgG fragments. Virdante is located in Cambridge, MA.

About The Rockefeller University

Founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1901, The Rockefeller University was this nation’s first biomedical research institution. Hallmarks of the university include a research environment that provides scientists with the support they need to do imaginative science, a high quality research hospital, and a truly international graduate program that is unmatched for the freedom and resources it provides students to develop their capacities for innovative research.

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