InFlectis Gains Patent Rights to Potential Myelin Therapy for CMT
InFlectis BioScience and the University of Chicago have entered into an agreement that grants InFlectis exclusive patent rights to use a family of small molecules as potential treatments for demyelinating disorders that include Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT).
Specifically, the license covers the use of IFB-088 and IFB-048, InFlectis’ lead compounds, for the treatment of CMT and multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a press release. Notably, IFB-088 is entering Phase 2 clinical trials in CMT and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
IFB-088 and IFB-048 are oral compounds that are part of a class of medications known as integrated stress response modulators. By having an effect on gene activation, the integrated stress response, or ISR, maintains a healthy state in cells in response to stressful conditions, such as protein defects, nutrient deprivation, and viral infection.
Demyelinating diseases such as CMT type 1 and MS are characterized by the loss of myelin — a fatty substance that surrounds nerve fibers, and is important for their sending electrical signals. The loss of myelin impairs nerve fiber function and communication, resulting in neurological problems.
InFlectis’ lead compounds are designed to keep the ISR “turned on” so that it protects nerve cells and oligodendrocytes — the cells that make myelin in the central nervous system (CNS; brain and spinal cord) — thereby promoting remyelination, or the production of new myelin, and lowering inflammation without affecting the CNS.
The agreement grants InFlectis exclusive rights to a patent initially issued to the University of Chicago for work performed there by Brian Popko, PhD, and his team. Popko is a former university researcher who is now a neurology professor at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.
“Small molecules like IFB-088 that enhance the ISR should provide protection to oligodendrocytes against the harsh environment created by the CNS inflammation,” Popko said. “This protection will shield myelin and axons [nerve fibers] from degeneration and permit remyelination to occur more efficiently.”
InFlectis, a French company, has already worked to improve the safety profile of ISR modulators for use in people. A Phase 1 clinical trial of IFB-088 in healthy volunteers showed the investigational medicine to be safe and well-tolerated with no serious adverse events reported. Data on the medication’s movement through the body were also largely consistent with preclinical studies.
“During his time at the University of Chicago, Dr. Popko discovered that the patented family of molecules could be useful for the treatment of demyelinating disorders,” said Thelma Tennant, PhD, director of business development and licensing for the university’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “We are delighted that this work will be brought to patients through our partnership with InFlectis BioScience, who will be advancing their compounds to treat individuals with neuromuscular diseases.”