January 3, 2008

GAITHERSBURG, Md — GenVec Inc announced that it has received a sub-award under a grant from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to develop a gene-based drug therapy to treat severe balance disorders. GenVec will receive up to $1,125,000 over five years to support pre-clinical research in collaboration with Dr. Hinrich Staecker, University of Kansas Medical Center, leading to the development of a drug candidate for clinical testing.

Work under the grant will include the advancement of a lead development candidate to deliver and express the human atonal gene, generation of materials for pre-clinical testing, and generation of additional pre-clinical data to support an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing for a Phase I clinical trial. The grant will leverage Staecker’s expertise in inner ear clinical research and GenVec’s proprietary technologies and know-how in bringing adenovector gene delivery strategies into clinical trials. Work under the grant will explore the use of advanced generation adenovectors that further enhance delivery, selectivity, and potency of the vector system.

In February 2007, GenVec announced the publication of pre-clinical research demonstrating that delivery of the atonal gene utilizing GenVec’s proprietary adenovector technologies can regenerate lost sensory hair cells and revive inner ear function, a major requirement in the development of restorative therapeutics. The proof-of-concept study, authored by investigators from University of Kansas School of Medicine, University of Heidelberg, and GenVec, appeared in the February 2007 issue of Otology & Neurotology. The goal of this grant is to translate these research results into an IND application for the treatment of aminoglycoside-induced bilateral vestibular hypofunction (BVH).

“This program will support the pre-clinical development of an atonal product candidate and allow us to explore potentially important enhancements to our adenovectors,” said Douglas J. Swirsky, GenVec’s chief financial officer. “This represents another example of GenVec’s ability to advance its technology efficiently through the selective use of grants and other collaborations.”

“Hearing and balance disorders represent significant medical needs for which new approaches are needed,” added Dr. Doug Brough, GenVec’s senior director of Vector Sciences. “Delivery of atonal genes using GenVec’s proprietary adenovectors has already demonstrated the potential to restore balance function in pre-clinical models. We believe this translational research has the potential to lead to the development of a first-in-class therapeutic that could cure certain balance disorders, not just treat them.”

SOURCE: Medical News Today