Connect with us

Local News

Fargo-based Genovac signs agreement with Pfizer for an antibody to treat heart disease



Fargo, North Dakota – Pfizer and Genovac, a biotechnology firm based in Fargo, have entered into an agreement for the development of therapeutic antibodies into a medication intended to treat cardiovascular disease.

A lump sum payment for the monoclonal antibodies that Genovac produced in association with Yale University physician William Sessa is included in the deal.

“We’re very excited to partner with Pfizer, who will be responsible for future development and commercialization,” said Brian Walters, Genovac’s chief executive officer.

Monoclonal antibodies are used in Sessa’s study to support the body’s immune system in its fight against cardiovascular disease.

“We generated antibodies against his target for testing and ultimately found something he thought would probably be effective,” Walters said. The molecule spurs the body to mount a defense against cardiovascular disease.

“It’s sort of a trigger within the immune system,” Walters said, adding that a drug, if approved, would have wide application. “It definitely has a lot of impact on a lot of people.”

Two approaches were available to Genovac, an antibody discovery company that split from Aldevron in 2020, for turning the antibody into a medication.

One option would have been to found a new business. According to Walters, if that option had been chosen, the technology would have been developed in Sessa’s laboratory in New Haven, Connecticut.

Rather, he said, the partners decided to sign a contract with Pfizer, a massive pharmaceutical company with a wealth of knowledge on bringing medications from clinical trials to market.

According to Walters, who served as president of the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. from 2002 to 2010, doing so will enable Fargo and North Dakota to reap greater benefits from the drug’s development.

According to Walters, if the antibody finding leads to a medicine that is authorized, the profits will support further innovations. When goals are accomplished, additional payments will be made, along with royalties on future net sales.

Regarding the agreement’s worth, neither Genovac nor Pfizer have made any comments.

“We agreed not to disclose it,” Walters said but said it will rank among recent major biotechnology deals. “I can say it falls in the category of those deals.”

Walters added: “It will help us make more investments and look for more of these collaborations. I do think this is an economic sector that can help provide that next step in diversification for the state.”

According to him, North Dakota offers technology companies assistance that is comparable to that of other states.

Despite having its headquarters in Fargo, Genovac conducts research and development in Germany, where it was established in 1999 before being purchased by Aldevron. Genovac is a leader in the world of antibody discovery, employing around 30 people in Germany and 15 in Fargo. The company has done over 3,500 antibody projects.

“Fargo is going to be where the vast majority of our growth will take place in the future,” he said.