A research consortium that includes Athera Biotechnologies has been awarded a €6 million ($8 million) research grant from the European Union toward preclinical development of the company’s lead drug candidate, the cardiovascular treatment PC-mAb.
The grant, from EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7), will fund three-fourths of the three-year, nearly €8 million (around $10.67 million) budget toward development costs up until proof-of-concept for phosphorylcholine-targeting PC-mAB. The fully human monoclonal antibody is being developed for patients with increased risk of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular events and death, including myocardial infarction patients and patients with peripheral arterial disease undergoing vein graft surgery.
The grant was awarded to CARDIMMUN, a consortium consisting of Athera, Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), Turku PET Center (Turku University), Clinical Trial Consultants (CTC), and Smerud Medical Research. LUMC is the project coordinator and will be leading the project together with Athera, which is 65% owned by Karolinska Development.
“With this nondilutive funding, Athera will be able to take its proprietary monoclonal antibody PC-mAb through major milestones,” Carina Schmidt, CEO of Athera Biotechnologies, said in a statement.
PC-mAb is aimed at restoring cardio-protective levels of anti-PC and thereby preventing secondary cardiovascular disease events. PC-mAb was developed by Dyax, which in 2008 agreed to team up with Athera in developing the treatment as part of a collaboration to discover and develop therapeutic products for prevention or treatment of cardiovascular inflammatory diseases.
Athera’s development pipeline includes a biomarker and companion diagnostic CVDefine®, an ELISA kit developed by the company for quantitative analysis of anti-PC in human blood. According to Athera, low levels of the biomarker anti-PC are linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, and could in the future be used for identifying patients likely to benefit from the company’s therapeutics.