Proterris and Alfama recently announced a merger of the two companies which will effectively create the world’s leader in the field of carbon monoxide (CO) therapies for acute and chronic diseases, such as pulmonary fibrosis.
“The merger of Alfama with Proterris represents a very synergistic and strategic fit between two companies with common goals, and substantially enhances corporate value for both sets of shareholders,” Nuno Arantes-Oliveira, CEO of Alfama, said in a press release. “We are very glad to make Alfama part of Proterris’ exceptional IP [intellectual property] portfolio, an important step in our evolution towards bringing low-dose CO therapies to patients.”
Research studies show carbon monoxide has the potential to modulate inflammatory processes, to protect cells from damage caused by oxygen reactive elements, and to have anti-proliferative activity. Because of these features, carbon monoxide can be a qualified agent to protect tissues from damage in many acute and chronic medical conditions.
Although the underlying mechanism is not fully understood, CO therapy has been shown to protect lung tissues from damage and reduce fibrosis in animal models. It is believed this protective mechanism is in part due to inhibiting the fibroblasts’ capacity to produce collagen and fibronectin, key elements in the fibrotic process. CO therapy has also been tested in a Phase 2 clinical trial (NCT01214187, U01HL105371) to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Focused on the therapeutic applications of low-dose CO, Proterris has acquired Alfama’s Carbon Monoxide-Releasing Molecules (CORMs). These molecules can expand the application of carbon monoxide not only to the inhaled form but also to orally or injectable formulations, addressing conditions where inhaled CO may not be suitable.
With promising results in animal models, CORMs offers a potentially safe therapeutic window for CO targeted therapy.
“Alfama has discovered and developed unique families of CORMs which have demonstrated very potent anti-fibrotic, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective effects with very low toxicity potential,” said Jeffrey D. Wager, chairman and CEO of Proterris. “Alfama’s CORM assets represent excellent candidates for drug development for those indications which are less amenable to therapy with CO gas.”
Proterris will also implement a collaboration with Prof. Carlos Romão of the Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology (ITQB) of the New University of Lisbon (NOVA), Portugal, one of the scientific pioneers and inventors of Alfama’s CORM assets. This collaboration will allow further optimization of CORM candidates for several clinical indications.
“In addition, by establishing Proterris (Portugal) Lda., we are now well-positioned to pursue a variety of European partnering and fundraising activities in both the private and public sectors,” Wager said.