Knopp Biosciences LLC, a Pittsburgh-based drug company that discovers and develops therapies for diseases with unmet clinical needs, recently announced that Calman Prussin, M.D., former senior investigator in eosinophil-associated inflammatory diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has now joined the company to lead the efforts in clinical and translational medicine in immunology.
More specifically, Prussin, the outgoing chairman of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, will lead the development of Knopp Biosciences’ lead drug candidate.
Dexpramipexole is an oral, small molecule medicine candidate, currently in development for the treatment of asthma, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and other conditions associated with eosinophils — white blood cells of the immune system important in the mediation of the allergic response and asthma pathogenesis.
Dexpramipexole is being developed under Knopp’s mitochondrial discovery platform as a potential next-generation mediator of mitochondrial bioenergetics. The drug has been shown, in ongoing clinical trials in chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps and hypereosinophilic syndrome, to be able to decrease the levels of eosinophils in blood and inflamed tissues. Following such promising results, Knopp intends to start Phase 2 trials on dexpramipexole in asthma this year.
Dr. Michael Bozik, president and CEO of Knopp, said in a press release: “We are extremely pleased to have Dr. Prussin leading the development of dexpramipexole in a challenging therapeutic area of persistent unmet medical need. In two decades as a physician-scientist at one of the world’s preeminent research institutions, he distinguished himself as a clinical trialist, a preclinical scientist, and a clinician specializing in allergic eosinophilic diseases — accomplishments that fully prepare him to lead our innovative drug development program in asthma and allergic disease.”
Prussin previously worked at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the NIH, participating as a principal investigator in several clinical trials in eosinophil-associated diseases. His experience also includes the Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“My joining the Knopp dexpramipexole program is an amazing opportunity to develop the first eosinophil-targeted oral drug to treat asthma and other eosinophilic diseases. Because it is a nonsteroidal small molecule, dexpramipexole has the potential to become a mainstay of asthma controller therapy for millions of patients,” Prussin said.