Vectalys and FlashCell Announce Merger to Create Flash Therapeutics, New Gene Therapy Company Based on Lentiviral Platforms and Bioproduction Technologies

New Company developing proprietary RNA-based therapeutics and
providing broad lentiviral development and manufacturing expertise and
support

TOULOUSE, France–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Vectalys, a leading biotech company specialized in manufacturing high
quality lentiviral solutions for gene delivery, and FlashCell, a company
developing non-integrating lentiviral delivered RNA therapeutics, today
announced that they have merged to create Flash Therapeutics, a new
privately held gene therapy company developing gene and cell
therapeutics. Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.

Flash Therapeutics will advance two complementary businesses:

  • Development of novel RNA therapeutics based on LentiFlash®,
    a proprietary non-integrative lentiviral delivery technology for
    incurable diseases;
  • Worldwide contract development and manufacturing expertise and support
    – from discovery through GMP production – for clients developing
    lentivirally-delivered RNA and DNA therapies.

In connection with the merger, Flash Therapeutics received a €3.3
million investment from Auriga Partners, a leading private equity
investor, through its AURIGA IV Bioseed fund; Galia Gestion, a private
equity fund based in Bordeaux, France; and two angel investors,
Jean-Pierre Arnaud and Alain Sainsot. Auriga and Vectalys were initial
investors in FlashCell, which was established in 2017.

LentiFlash technology was developed to deliver RNA into cells with high
efficiency for short-term expression without integrating genetic
material into the host cells’ genome. Conventional lentiviral vectors
deliver DNA that integrates into the target cells’ genome and results in
stable expression. LentiFlash has demonstrated great potential to expand
the use of lentiviral delivery along with advanced technologies (e.g.,
gene editing, next generation immunotherapy) that may not be compatible
with conventional lentiviral vectors used as therapeutics.

“Flash Therapeutics capitalizes on both the emergence of gene and
cell therapies as major new therapeutic modalities for the treatment of
genetic and other previously untreatable diseases, and of lentiviral
vectors as a commercially and medically validated approach to gene
delivery,”
said Pascale Bouillé, PhD, CEO of Flash Therapeutics. “Our
new company is positioned to build on the lentiviral development and
production technologies Vectalys developed and applied over the past 13
years, and to advance a new class of RNA therapies based on its
transient, non-integrating lentiviral technology, LentiFlash.”

Dr. Bouillé added, “LentiFlash technology combines both delivery
efficiency without cell damage of viral vectors and safety of RNA
delivery.”

Dr. Bouillé noted that Flash Therapeutics is initially developing RNA
therapeutics based on LentiFlash in the areas of blood and liver
diseases. The Company plans to collaborate with pharmaceutical and
biotechnology partners to develop RNA therapies in other disease areas.

The Company’s lentiviral development and production business, which will
continue to operate under the Vectalys manufacturing platform name, will
expand as part of Flash Therapeutics to include scalable GMP
manufacturing capabilities. The GMP facility, which is expected to
become fully operational in 2019, is being established through a
recently signed, three-year partnership with Hospital Saint-Louis,
Lariboisière, Fernand-Widal (Assistance Public Hospitals of Paris AP-HP)
to develop and produce gene and cell therapy drugs.

“Rapid growth in the development of gene and cell therapies, along
with an increasing number of products in clinical trials, are driving
the global need for lentiviral manufacturing technology and expertise,”

noted Dr. Bouillé. “With capabilities for development and
manufacturing that will span from discovery through GMP production,
Flash Therapeutics is poised to fill that need. Our lentiviral
development and production technologies, along with LentiFlash, will
allow us to participate broadly in the development and commercialization
of gene and cell therapy in a wide range of difficult-to-treat diseases.”

Franck Lescure, partner in charge of AURIGA IV Bioseeds at Auriga
Partners, added that new investors, “Jean-Pierre Arnaud and
Alain Sainsot, will also bring their strong industrial experience and
know-how to Flash Therapeutics, which holds the key to addressing
existing technological barriers in gene therapies.”

Since its founding in 2005, Vectalys has provided lentiviral tools and
manufacturing support and expertise to leading companies and academic
institutions. Vectalys has existing distribution relationships with
Takara Bio worldwide for prefabricated particles.

About LentiFlash®
Thanks to 10 years of
Vectalys’ research on lentiviral delivery systems, the LentiFlash,
technology is a game-changing class of RNA carriers based on a chimeric
lentiviral platform including the bacteriophage packaging system. This
innovative technology has been specifically designed to package genetic
materials for transient expression of genome editing machineries,
antigens or cell specific factors in cells and tissues. The LentiFlash
delivery system offers the advantage of a lentiviral particle combined
with an important safety consideration for human use since RNAs are
directly delivered and expressed into the cytoplasm, which removes any
risk of integration into the genome. Details on LentiFlash technology
were described in Molecular
Therapy: Methods and Clinical Development
in 2015.

About Flash Therapeutics
Flash Therapeutics is a new gene
therapy company developing gene and cell-based therapies leveraging its
proprietary lentiviral platform and bioproduction technologies. The
Company is built around the Vectalys lentiviral platform, which includes
its patented non-integrative LentiFlash® technology, and integrative
lentiviral vectors. By providing efficient, transient and short-term RNA
delivery technology, LentiFlash is suitable for gene editing and other
advanced therapeutic approaches. When stable DNA expression is needed
(immunotherapies such as CAR T cells), integrative lentiviral vectors
will be the delivery method of choice. Both technologies benefit from
novel production and purification processes developed and continually
optimized since 2005. Flash Therapeutics is advancing two business
lines: therapeutic development based on LentiFlash, with internal
programs for blood and liver diseases; and development and manufacturing
support to companies worldwide pursuing lentiviral delivered therapies.
Flash Therapeutics was established in 2018 through the merger of
FlashCell, a privately held company developing LentiFlash®,
based RNA therapeutics; and Vectalys, a leading privately held 13-year
old lentiviral vector manufacturer. Learn more at www.flashtherapeutics.com.

Contacts

Head of PR worldwide:
(H2D Advisory)
Jean-Christophe
Huertas, +33 6 16 99 47 05
jean-christophe.huertas@h2dadvisory.com
or
PR
contact in the US

(RMG Associates)
Peter Steinerman, +1
516-641-8959
prsteinerman@gmail.com