German biopharmaceutical Apogenix was awarded €2.6 million (about $3.66 million) in federal grants to support the development of an IL-4 inhibitor against chemotherapy- and radiotherapy-resistant cancers as well as CD95 ligand (CD95L) inhibitors for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases.
The funding is part of a €40 million (about $56.3 million) grant scheme awarded to organizations within Germany’s Biotechnology Cluster Rhine-Neckar. Both the IL-4 and CD95L programs will be carried out in collaboration with research groups at the German Cancer Research Center from which Apogenix was spun out in 2005.
The company’s most advanced candidate, APG101, is a soluble human fusion protein combining the extracellular domain of the CD95-receptor and the Fc-portion of IgG. Positive results from a Phase I trial with the candidate were reported in May 2009, and a Phase II, open-label study in glioblastoma patients is expected to start during the first half of 2010. Additional Phase II trials with APG101 in the prevention of acute graft versus host disease are also being planned.
APG101 has been granted orphan drug status in Europe for the prevention of acute graft versus host disease. Apogenix claims that the compound blocks CD95L-mediated apoptosis by binding to the ligand expressed on effector cells and preventing apoptosis of healthy tissue.