Australia-based pharmaceutical company Pharmaxis Ltd. recently agreed to collaborate with UK-based biotechnology company Synairgen plc in developing a selective inhibitor of lysyl oxidase type 2 enzyme (LOXL2) to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), as this enzyme drives scar tissue formation. If LOXL2 is inhibited, survival rates of patients with IPF may significantly improve. There are about 100,000 people suffering from IPF in the United States. Currently available treatments are projected to yield global revenues over $1.1 billion by the year 2017.
This research program originally started from the same Pharmaxis chemistry platform that gave rise to the SSAO inhibitor program recently acquired by Boehringer Ingelheim. According to the agreement, Synairgen will provide funding for the LOXL2 inhibitor program at Pharmaxis, utilize its BioBank and in vitro lung model platform, and work together with the IPF research team at the University of Southampton throughout pre- and early clinical research.
The IPF program will be overseen by a committee whose members represent both companies until the completion of Phase I or Phase 2a clinical trials, after which the companies will seek a license partner. The collaboration will also require both companies to share any licensing revenues proportional to the company’s investment. Share of licensing revenues is roughly equal for a product licensed for IPF after early clinical testing. Pharmaxis will maintain its development initiatives outside the collaboration for other diseases treatable by LOXL2 inhibitors, such as liver and kidney fibrosis, and metastatic cancer.
Pharmaxis chief executive officer Gary Phillips said, “We have continued to make good progress in our preclinical LOX inhibitor programme 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.”
Synairgen chief executive officer Richard Marsden added, “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.”
“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.”