Lung Therapeutics announced that it has raised $36 million in Series C financing to fund two projects, including a healthy volunteer Phase 1 clinical trial testing LTI-03, an experimental therapy for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Currently approved therapies for IPF can slow disease progression, but cannot restore the lung function that has already been lost.
According to Lung Therapeutics, LTI-03 works differently from other pharmaceutical compounds, as it targets a cellular pathway known as the caveolin (Cav1) pathway. Caveolae (Latin for “little caves”) are small invaginations (folds) of the cell membrane, and Cav1 is a protein that plays a role in their formation.
In fibrotic conditions such as IPF, Cav1 protein is missing from fibroblasts — the cells that synthesize the extracellular matrix and collagen responsible for scarring (fibrosis). Thus, Cav1 seems to have a role in keeping fibrosis in check.
LTI-03 is a peptide containing a critical portion of Cav1. Experiments suggest that by adding LTI-03, lung fibroblasts can restore some of the lost balance, promoting normal extracellular matrix turnover — the process by which structural proteins such as collagen, elastin, and proteoglycans are degraded and new proteins are formed.
In experimental animal models of IPF, LTI-03 has been able to resolve lung injury when given 14 days after the induction of the disease. According to the company, LTI-03 has potent antifibrotic effects, and has potential in IPF treatment as it could be able to restore lung function, reversing the condition, and not just slowing disease progression.
The funding will also support the development of LTI-01, a potential therapy for patients with loculated pleural effusions, a serious complication of pneumonia.
“We are extremely thankful for the strong reception and support we have received from both our existing and new institutional investors. Both LTI-01 and LTI-03 show great promise to becoming new and beneficial therapeutic drugs for doctors and patients worldwide,” Brian Windsor, PhD, CEO of Lung Therapeutics, said in a press release.
“This financing will allow us to complete the first and only Phase 2 clinical trial in patients with loculated pleural effusions, as well as a healthy volunteer Phase 1 clinical trial for our second product candidate, LTI-03, which is in development for IPF patients,” Windsor said.