Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and Protagonist Therapeutics are partnering in a research collaboration that will exploit the latter’s disulfide rich peptide (DRP) technology to discover potential new candidates against Ironwood targets. Under terms of the deal, Ironwood retains the rights to develop and commercialize any resulting products. Protagonist will receive an up-front payment from its new partner along with funding relating to drug discovery activities, and potential development/commercialization milestones and royalties on future product sales.
Ironwood says it believes Protagonist’s peptide drug discovery capabilities and DRP platform will complement its own internal discovery and development capabilities. “Entering into this collaboration is an important step in advancing our goal of discovering, developing, and commercializing innovative medicines targeting important therapeutic needs,” comments Mark G. Currie, Ph.D., Ironwood CSO and also svp for R&D.
Protagonist Therapeutics is focused on the discovery and development of DRPs against targets and diseases for which neither small molecule nor biologic options are available. The firm claims its drug discovery platform enables the identification of DRP-based hits and leads against almost any type of target, in a de novo manner. The resulting DRP molecules are highly constrained and stable chemical entities that combine the beneficial features of mAb drugs with the desired properties of small molecule drugs, Protagonist says. Features include improved oral stability, reduced immunogenicity, favorable pharmacokinetics, improved distribution and tissue penetration, and the potential for delivery by oral as well as intravenous routes. The firm is looking to develop DRPs as a broad scaffold class and has assembled a database of more than 5,000 experimentally derived structures of DRPs.
Lead in-house program is focused on the discovery and preclinical development of injectable and orally stable IL-6 peptide antagonists. Additional discovery efforts are centered on identifying orally stable DRPs against disease-related gastrointestinal targets, and specific ion-channel, GPCR, and cytokine targets for which antibody or small molecule alternatives are not available.