Autoimmune illness medicine work by addressing a protein or pathway related to irritation, focusing on it to suppress the extreme immune response. Such medicine can deal with a spread of situations, however additionally they introduce security dangers—an ongoing downside because the persistent nature of those illnesses imply that sufferers are on remedy for the long run. Nuvig Therapeutics is taking a unique tack, tapping right into a built-in means that the immune system resets. The biotech startup is now revealing some particulars about its strategy together with $47 million in financing that places it on the trail to scientific testing.
The Sequence A financing introduced Wednesday was led by Novo Holdings and Platanus.
Nuvig’s strategy to treating autoimmune illnesses includes focusing on a category of naturally occurring receptors discovered on immune cells. These receptors regulate homeostasis, defined co-founder and CEO Pamela Conley. When the physique has an inflammatory response, these receptors can flip that response off. The Redwood Metropolis, California-based startup is creating medicine that interact these receptors, triggering the occasions that tamp down the immune response.
“That is extra of a pure rebalancing of the pure immune operate,” Conley mentioned.
Conley initially realized about this mechanism throughout a earlier function at Portola Prescribed drugs, an organization whose analysis led to FDA-approved therapies for bleeding problems. Her analysis at Portola included irritation, and one of many firm’s scientific advisors was Jeffrey Ravetch, a professor of immunology, virology, and microbiology at The Rockefeller College. Ravetch discovered that Fc receptors for an antibody known as immunoglobulin G do extra than simply bind to antibodies. These receptors may also regulate immune responses, providing one other means of suppressing irritation. Ravetch co-authored a paper describing Fc receptors for IgG as regulators of immune responses, analysis that was revealed in Nature Opinions Immunology in 2008.
After Alexion Prescribed drugs acquired Portola in 2020, Conley mentioned that she needed to study extra about this strategy to addressing irritation. She and Greg Coffey, one other Portola veteran, co-founded Nuvig final yr, licensing mental property from Rockefeller. Coffey serves because the biotech’s vp, immunology and scientific translational analysis.
Ravetch is a co-founder and scientific advisor to Nuvig. His Rockefeller analysis centered on how antibodies mediate immune responses. Conley declined to supply particulars about Nuvig’s lead molecule, apart from to say it’s a recombinant protein. The receptors of curiosity are discovered on myeloid cells and different cells of the immune system. One class of those receptors spark a pro-inflammatory response whereas the opposite triggers an anti-inflammatory response. Conley mentioned the Nuvig molecule is genetically engineered to interact the anti-inflammatory class of receptors.
Present therapies for persistent autoimmune illnesses embrace steroids and medicines that block tumor necrosis issue, a pro-inflammatory signaling protein. A more moderen class of therapies known as Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors additionally has approvals in autoimmune problems, however these medicine have lately come below tighter FDA scrutiny as a consequence of scientific knowledge exhibiting a better cardiovascular and most cancers dangers. Conley mentioned autoimmune medicine pose a long-term threat of opportunistic an infection and most cancers as a result of sufferers take these medicine for a protracted time period. That’s one space the place a Nuvig remedy may set itself aside.
“We expect the actual benefit for us is we are able to obtain related efficacy however with a greater security profile,” Conley mentioned.
Nuvig is working to advance its lead molecule to human testing in a single indication. Conley declined to specify that indication however mentioned it will most likely be an autoimmune illness the place the corporate can readily measure a biomarker for a therapeutic response. After establishing proof of idea in a single indication, that analysis may pave the best way for Nuvig to increase its strategy to others, Conley mentioned. Along with recombinant proteins, Nuvig can also be researching using full-length therapeutic antibodies.
A rising variety of corporations are attempting to faucet into the physique’s mechanisms for irritation management as a brand new means of treating autoimmune and inflammatory problems. Final yr, Merck paid $1.85 billion to accumulate Pandion Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotech whose therapies are proteins engineered to selectively increase regulatory T cells (Tregs), a sort of immune cell that tamps down extreme immune responses. Pandion’s lead illness goal was ulcerative colitis. Startup Abata Therapeutics is creating an autologous cell remedy comprised of a affected person’s personal Tregs which are engineered to dwelling in on diseased tissue. Final June, Abata raised $95 million to help analysis that features a lead program for a number of sclerosis. And final November, Quell Therapeutics closed a $156 million spherical of funding because it progressed towards the clinic with an autologous Treg cell remedy to forestall organ rejection in liver transplant sufferers.
The opposite buyers taking part in Nuvig’s new financing embrace Bristol Myers Squibb, Digitalis Ventures, and Mission BioCapital. Conley declined to supply a timeline for reaching the clinic. The corporate is producing preclinical knowledge to construct on the preclinical analysis performed by Ravetch’s lab. As Nuvig progresses towards an investigational new drug software, Conley mentioned she expects that a few of these knowledge shall be shared at scientific conferences over the subsequent few months.
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