Start-Up Previews (01/2011)
A preview of the emerging health companies profiled in the current issue of Start-Up. This month's profile group, "Benlysta May Lead Wave Of New Approvals For Lupus Drugs," features profiles of Azano Pharmaceuticals, Resolve Therapeutics and SuppreMol. Plus these Start-Ups Across Health Care: biocrea, e(ye)BRAIN, MiCardia and Omthera Pharmaceuticals
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A growing number of competing companies are taking fresh approaches to treating lupus. Genentech and MedImmune, for instance, are each working on antibodies intended to directly bind the cytokine known as interferon-alpha, and inhibit its inflammatory effects. Start-up Resolve Therapeutics LLC is developing a compound intended to act in the same pathway as Genentech's and MedImmune's antibodies, but upstream of alpha-interferon. The idea is not to block production of interferon itself, but rather to block events that company founders believe trigger alpha-interferon production in lupus patients.
SuppreMol GMBH is developing a recombinant version of human Fcy receptor FcyRIIb, now in Phase IIa for SLE. This candidate competes with membrane-bound Fcy receptors on immune cells, preventing binding of immune complexes containing autoantigens and inhibiting re-stimulation of immune cells. This down-regulates the B cells specifically involved in the autoimmune response, but does not affect B cells that are part of the normal immune response.
biocrea GMBH, a 2010 management buy-out of Finland's Biotie Therapies, is developing phosphodiesterase inhibitors for diseases of the central nervous system, memory disorders and schizophrenia. Biocrea's novel approach to drug development may make it feasible to produce more specific inhibitors at the level of PDE subfamilies and/or isoforms, in order to optimize their efficacy and side-effect profiles.