New Startup Isterian Biotech Working to Develop IPF Therapies

New therapies aim to reduce scar tissue that forms in lungs

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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A new startup company called Isterian Biotech has launched with the goal of developing new therapies for fibrotic diseases.

Isterian is working to develop a first-in-class group of small molecules that would inhibit a protein called transglutaminase 2 (TG2), which plays a key role in fibrosis, or tissue scarring. Preclinical work is being conducted on two investigational therapies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) — IST-01 and IST-02.

Cells are held in place by the extracellular matrix — a mesh-like network of proteins and other molecules that help support body tissues and give them structure. The matrix contains many long, threadlike proteins that are tangled together and connected to each other through a process called crosslinking. The TG2 protein plays a key role in this crosslinking.

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When scar tissue forms, as it happens in the lungs of people with IPF, crosslinking increases, helping to make scar tissue stiff and hard. By blocking TG2 and its associated crosslinking, Isterian’s experimental therapies may help reduce the formation of excess scar tissue that characterizes IPF and other fibrotic disorders.

“Isterian’s strategy of combining rational drug design with efficient multiparametric profiling of synthesized small molecules has been both impressive and highly productive. Notably, for one of our highly potent and selective TG2 inhibitors, we have recently demonstrated efficacy in a mouse model of lung fibrosis for the first time,” said Georg Terstappen, PhD, president and chairman of the board at Isterian, in a press release.

Isterian’s therapeutic strategy builds off work led by Martin Griffin, a professor at Aston University who studied TG2 inhibitors. Aston partnered with Cambrian BioPharma to form Isterian as a pipeline company in 2019.

“As Cambrian continues on its mission to build medicines that will redefine healthcare in the 21st century, we are very thankful to find brilliant scientists such as Martin and his team that are willing to break the mold,” said James Peyer, CEO of Cambrian BioPharma. “Isterian and its work to reduce fibrosis are a perfect fit alongside the other pipeline companies our team has announced in 2022.”

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