Beating Botox: Merz and Vensica team up for needleless delivery

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Vensica will handle preclinical and clinical development in its new partnership with Merz Therapeutics. (rawpixel)

Merz Therapeutics has opened another front in its effort to win market share from Botox. Spying a chance to differentiate itself through delivery in overactive bladder, Merz has partnered with Vensica Therapeutics for the needleless administration of its challenger to the blockbuster neurotoxin.

Physicians use Botox to treat overactive bladder by injecting the neurotoxin into multiple parts of the affected organ through a small tube. Clinical trials have linked the treatment to significant reductions in daily leakage episodes. However, with patients needing to receive injections into the bladder every six months, Merz and Vensica see scope to create a more convenient treatment.

To pursue the opportunity, Merz has agreed to become the exclusive toxin supplier for the urological applications of Vensica’s needleless technology. The alliance will see Vensica work with Merz to show its ultrasound-assisted delivery catheter can get the neurotoxin Xeomin to target cells in the bladder.

The system uses therapeutic ultrasound to deliver neurotoxins. Vensica is pitching the technology as a way to quickly deliver neurotoxins without the use of needles, anesthesia or cystoscopes, the small tubes used in the administration of Botox to overactive bladder patients. Vensica saw signs of efficacy and no serious adverse events in a 10-subject first-in-human study. 

In return for providing Xeomin to Vensica, Merz is receiving equity, royalties and the chance to invest in the company. Vensica sees a range of benefits to bringing Merz on board for the development project.

“The partnership with Merz, which includes not only exclusive licensing of Xeomin, but also development support, enables us to accelerate our clinical trials and regulatory process,” Vensica CEO Avner Geva said in a statement. 

Vensica will handle preclinical and clinical development as well as the submission of an application for marketing approval and commercial activities everywhere except Japan. Merz will produce and supply Xeomin for commercial sales.