Thirona Bio, MannKind Team for Potential New IPF Inhaled Therapy

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by Vanda Pinto, PhD |

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Thirona Bio has teamed with MannKind Corporation to develop and test a potential inhaled treatment for fibrotic lung diseases, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

FBM5712, which Thirona is working to advance as a possible topical treatment of skin fibrosis, will be modified and investigated by MannKind for its potential as a dry-powder therapy for fibrotic disorders of the lungs.

“This collaboration with MannKind gives Thirona the opportunity to potentially expand the development of FBM5712 into fibrotic lung diseases with a new formulation,” Gordon Foulkes, PhD, Thirona’s founder and CEO, said in a press release.

Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) is a molecule known to play a key role in fibrotic diseases. It induces the production and accumulation of proteins that surround and support cells in tissues, and which can lead to tissue scaring (fibrosis).

The biological effects of TGF-beta are reported to occur through the members of a family of activin receptor-like kinases (ALK). Previous studies have shown that blocking ALK5 can reduce tissue fibrosis in organs that include the lungs, kidneys, and liver.

“TGF-beta is also implicated in lung fibrotic diseases and ALK-5 has been validated as a potential target for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis,” said Thomas Hofmann, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer of MannKind.

Thirona’s FBM5712 is a small molecule inhibitor of the ALK-5 kinase, and a candidate treatment of dermatologic diseases like skin fibrosis.

MannKind will use its expertise in the production and commercialization of inhaled medications to reformulate FBM5712 as a dry powder, so that it can be delivered directly to the lungs.

It will carry out preclinical studies to evaluate FBM5712’s therapeutic potential. If initial findings are promising, MannKind may then exercise certain rights to obtain a full license to move the compound into clinical testing and, potentially, commercialization as a treatment of fibrotic lung diseases.

“We are excited by the opportunity to evaluate FBM5712 and to assess its potential to support our pipeline ambitions,” said Michael Castagna, CEO of MannKind.

“We remain focused on the dermatological applications of this drug — targeting scleroderma, keloid scars and certain cancers — and now look forward to exploring lung indications with the experienced MannKind team,” Foulkes added.

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