ProtAffin received a €2.1 million Austrian Government Grant to support preclinical and clinical development of its modified IL-8 protein anti-inflammatory candidate PA401. The new award takes the total in grant money received by the firm from the country’s translational research body to over €5 million.
ProtAffin’s lead candidate, PA401, is in development for the treatment of inflammatory lung diseases including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as the primary indication, but potentially cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis. The drug has also been granted orphan drug designation in the U.S. and EU for use in the prevention of delayed graft function after solid organ transplantation. An initial clinical trial with PA401 is scheduled to start during Q2 2012.
PA401 is a modified form of IL-8. The candidate essentially acts as an IL-8 decoy that prevents wild-type IL-8 from activating neutrophils and the inflammatory effects that result. The candidate has been developed using ProtAffin’s CellJammer® discovery platform for the design of glycan-binding decoy proteins for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
The CellJammer technology combines bioinformatics, structure-based protein engineering and proprietary assays to develop protein-based therapeutics. Effectively, the approach generates decoy proteins in which the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) binding affinity of the native protein is increased through the modification of selected amino acids, while the signalling portion of the native protein is inactivated.
ProtAffin’s preclinical pipeline is headed by PA401. Additional programs in preclinical development are focused on developing glycan-binding MCP-1, and SDF-1α decoy proteins, for potential indications in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, myocardial infarction and autoimmune uveitis, as well as cancer and angiogenesis-related disorders.