CIRM awards $1.45M to advance Rubedo’s work on IPF cell therapy

Company targeting harmful senescent stem cells in patients' lungs

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by Mary Chapman |

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The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has awarded Rubedo Life Sciences $1.45 million to develop and study a potentially disease-modifying treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) that targets senescent lung stem cells.

The funding will enable the biopharmaceutical company to characterize senescent cells — aged cells that can no longer divide or grow —  in the lungs of IPF patients, including patients’ senescent stem and progenitor cells. Senescent cells are thought to be implicated in a variety of diseases.

It will also permit Rubedo to screen its collection of senolytic small molecule prodrugs on a humanized IPF cell model, with the goal of conducting efficacy studies on a lead senolytic compound, the company announced in a press release.

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Goal is a potential regenerative cell therapy for IPF

So-called senolytic treatments are designed to destroy pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic senescent cells. The buildup of these cells in the body is linked to aging, and they are believed to contribute to IPF, marked by lung scarring (fibrosis), and other often age-related diseases.

“We are delighted to partner with CIRM and appreciate their recognition of the importance of advancing research to identify stem cell-based therapeutics that [selectively] target pathologic [disease-causing] senescent cells that drive cellular aging,” said Marco Quarta, PhD, Rubedo’s CEO and co-founder.

“Our team has shown promising results in preclinical studies and look forward to identifying and nominate a small molecule development candidate with the potential to address a significant unmet need” for people with IPF, Quarta said.

Rubedo also partnered with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to develop senolytic treatments targeting senescent cells involved in IPF. Under this 2021 collaboration, Cory Hogaboam, PhD, a professor of medicine and research scientist at Cedars-Sinai focusing on chronic lung diseases, joined Rubedo’s scientific advisory board.

“Our goal is to always move the most promising research forward as fast as we can,” said Maria Millan, MD, CIRM’s president and CEO. “That’s why these programs are so important. They reflect potential therapeutic approaches that have shown promise in the lab and are ready to take the next step, to undergo further testing and examination to see if they work safely in patients.”

Rubedo uses its proprietary Alembic drug discovery platform in its IPF program, which melds chemistry and computational technologies to create prodrugs targeting cell types driving age-related disorders.

According to Rubedo, IPF is on the rise globally, largely due to an aging population, increasing air pollution, and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

CIRM, established to speed patient access to stem cell therapies, partners with academia and industry to advance in development promising stem cell technologies.

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