Chiesi Acquires Zampilimab, Antibody to Potentially Treat IPF

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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Chiesi announced it has secured from UCB rights to zampilimab, a monoclonal antibody being investigated to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and other fibrotic diseases.

Under the agreement, Chiesi acquired global exclusive rights to develop and manufacture the potential antifibrotic therapy, and to market it should it be approved.

“We are confident that Chiesi, a company with an established global presence and a focus on the development of novel drug candidates for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and other pulmonary fibrotic diseases, will quickly progress zampilimab,” Dhaval Patel, UCB’s chief scientific officer, said in a press release.

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Antibodies are specialized proteins made by the immune system that are able to bind to a specific molecular target with high specificity. The immune system makes antibodies to help the body fight against threats like infectious viruses — antibodies specific to a virus can bind to the virus, stopping it from infecting cells, and targeting it for destruction.

Because of their ability to strongly bind to very specific targets, antibodies have emerged as a platform for therapies that aim to block the activity of specific proteins in the body. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-produced antibodies that are all identical to each other, and so can be particularly useful in therapeutic contexts.

All antibody therapies are types of biologics, or therapies made using living cells. They are regulated somewhat differently than traditional medications that can be chemically synthesized, or produced.

Zampilimab is a monoclonal antibody that is designed to bind and block the activity of a protein called transglutaminase 2 (TG2). TG2 is thought to be a driver of fibrosis, or scarring, in IPF and other diseases. Studies have shown that TG2 levels are increased in the lungs of IPF patients, and work in in mouse disease models suggested that blocking TG2 activity can lessen lung fibrosis.

“This will be the first monoclonal antibody in the Chiesi pipeline, thereby accelerating the company’s entry into biologics and thus diversifies our therapeutic platforms,” said Thomas Eichholtz, head of global research and development of Chiesi Group.

“At Chiesi, we are exploring new programs to address key pathways in the complex disease IPF. The goal is to offer new treatment options that delay or reverse lung function decline in patients suffering from such progressive interstitial lung diseases. I am excited at the possibilities of this new asset and pleased that we can benefit from the scientific and technical know-how of UCB,” Eichholtz added.

The acquisition’s value was not disclosed, but UCB is being given an upfront payment, and the agreement includes future milestone payments and net sales royalties to the company.

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