Ablaris Therapeutics’ lead candidate is projected to enter clinic during 2011.

Arrowhead Research has set up a new subsidiary, Ablaris Therapeutics, to commercialize anti-obesity IP developed by researchers at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and to which Arrowhead has negotiated exclusive worldwide rights. An initial candidate is projected to enter clinical development during 2011, and drug manufacturing for Phase I has already been completed. Arrowhead says Ablaris’ founders have been working closely with FDA to move the technology toward the clinic.

Ablaris has raised $3 million from external investors to fund its launch and to cover the up-front license payments, although the firm stresses it will not be responsible for any direct costs associated with the Phase I study. Arrowhead will invest another $500,000 in Ablaris, in return for a 55% stake in the firm. Arrowhead will also control Ablaris’ board of directors and will operate the subsidiary.

The broad platform technology licensed from the MD Anderson Cancer Center is designed to kill blood vessels feeding white fat tissue and provides Ablaris with the potential to develop follow-on candidates,

Arrowhead claims. Studies in rodents and various species of nonhuman primate have shown that subcutaneous administration of the lead compound leads to the destruction and absorption of fat, with the primary mode of action believed to be at the site of fat tissue rather than at the CNS level, the firm states.

The platform is ideal with respect to establishing a new subsidiary, and fits in well with Arrowhead’s broader strategy as a nanomedicine company, according to Chris Anzalone, Ph.D., Arrowhead president and CEO. “First, it addresses a large underserved market with worldclass science at an advanced stage of development that is expected to move rapidly into the clinic. Second, it is based on platform technology rather than a single compound, providing Ablaris with multiple shots on goal and the ability to generate follow-on products.”

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