Australian pharmaceutical company Pharmaxis Ltd and UK based Synairgen plc have signed a research partnership to advance a selective inhibitor for the LOXL2-lysyl oxidase type 2 enzyme in order to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a fatal lung disease.
IPF affects 100,000 people in the United States and it is expected that current therapeutics for the disease will by 2017 produce global revenues in excess of $1.1 billion. Researchers have found that the LOXL2 enzyme promotes scar tissue that hardens and seriously damages the lungs of IPF patients. Further, it is expected that through inhibiting LOXL2, the build-up of scar tissue can be slowed down and survival rates will be improved.
This new LOXL2 inhibitor program is being developed using the same Pharmaxis chemistry platform in the same manner as Boehringer Ingelheim’s SSAO inhibitor. Synairgen will fund the program and will utilize its proprietary BioBank and in vitro lung model platform, and cooperate with an IPF research team at the University of Southampton to finish clinical advancement. The IPF program will be managed by a joint steering committee through to the end of phase 1 or phase 2a clinical trials, at which time the collaboration will seek a license partner. Pharmaxis and Synairgen will share any licensing revenues in accordance with the ratio of total investment by the two companies at that time. LOXL2 inhibition has demonstrated potential to address liver and kidney fibrosis, as well as metastatic cancer.
Gary Phillips, Pharmaxis’ chief executive officer, noted: “We have continued to make good progress in our preclinical LOX inhibitor program me and in particular on LOXL2 small molecule inhibitors to treat various diseases where fibrosis is a major problem. The significant interest among leading clinicians and pharmaceutical companies in the role of LOXL2 in a number of different diseases has highlighted the need for us to collaborate for selected indications in order to fully exploit the potential value of our intellectual property. Synairgen has a demonstrated excellence in respiratory drug development, having successfully licensed its inhaled IFN-beta phase 2 programme to AstraZeneca. We believe our collaboration with Synairgen will accelerate the development of a highly competitive once-a-day oral treatment for patients with IPF and enable Pharmaxis to develop LOXL2 inhibitors for other potential indications such as liver and kidney fibrosis, and cancer.”
“We are delighted to be collaborating with Pharmaxis in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a severe and fatal lung disease. Pharmaxis has a proven competence in the discovery and development of novel molecules, making it an ideal partner. LOXL2 is a target which is of interest not only to our IPF clinical experts in Southampton but also to large pharmaceutical companies; in 2011 Gilead Sciences acquired Arresto Biosciences for $225 million for its phase I LOXL2 targeting antibody simtuzumab and is currently conducting a large efficacy trial in IPF,” added Richard Marsden, Synairgen’s chief executive officer. “Using existing financial resources from our fundraising in 2014, we will apply our BioBank platform of advanced human tissue models and understanding of respiratory biology to develop the LOXL2 inhibitor. We look forward to working closely with Pharmaxis and the world class academics at the University of Southampton to progress this opportunity into the clinic in patients with IPF.”