Agomab Acquires Origo Biopharma, Will Develop Fibrosis Therapies

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by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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Agomab Therapeutics and Origo Biopharma are joining forces to develop new therapies for pulmonary fibrosis (PF) and other conditions caused by excessive tissue scarring, or fibrosis.

“Agomab and Origo share a common vision that targeting growth factors has tremendous disease-modifying potential,” Tim Knotnerus, Agomab’s CEO, said in a press release. “This transaction delivers on Agomab’s growth strategy and brings together two teams that have complementary R&D [research and development] experience and establishes an exciting clinical pipeline of therapeutics to help patients with severe unmet medical needs.”

Under the new agreement, Agomab will acquire Origo, a Spanish biotechnology company developing experimental small molecule therapies targeting the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) signaling pathway, a well-established driver of fibrosis.

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“[TGF-beta] is a validated pathway known to be a master regulator of [fibrosis development],” Knotnerus said.

Origo’s technologies have focused on developing small molecules that will block TGF-beta signaling in specific organs, which may help to avoid “toxicity concerns associated with systemic [TGF-beta] blockade,” according to Knotnerus.

Origo’s lead therapy candidate, called ORG-129, is designed to specifically target fibrosis in the digestive tract of people with Crohn’s disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. ORG-129 is currently being studied in Phase 1 clinical testing to evaluate its safety profile and pharmacological properties.

Orgio also is developing a lung-targeting therapy, called ORG-447, as a potential treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. ORG-447 is currently in preclinical testing, with the goal of generating enough data to garner regulatory approval to start testing the experimental therapy in humans.

Both ORG-129 and ORG-447 work by blocking ALK-5, a receptor of TGF-beta.

These therapies, in combination with Agomab’s platforms, which focus on targeting another fibrosis-associated signaling pathway called hepatocyte growth factor, make for a rich pipeline of therapeutic candidates capable of addressing fibrosis across a wide range of disorders.

“We view this acquisition as a unique opportunity to accelerate the further development of our programs as part of a highly competent and committed organization. We are truly excited to take this step and join Agomab to create a growth factor-focused drug development leader with both antibody and small molecule capabilities,” said Ramon Bosser, Origo’s CEO.

“I very much look forward to working with the Origo team as an integral part of our combined company going forward,” Knotnerus said.

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