Antibodies targeting DNA-binding protein could have utility in multiple inflammatory disorders.

Respiratory drug specialist Cornerstone Therapeutics reported the reaquisition of all development and commercial rights to its high-mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) technology from MedImmune. The latter had originally negotiated rights to develop antibodies targeting HMGB1 for the treatment of chronic inflammation back in 2003.

Cornerstone says it now aims to find a new partner for the HMGB1 technology  “Several parties have expressed to us their interest in further developing this valuable platform,” states Craig A. Collard, president and CEO. “While our strategic focus continues to be on acquiring and developing products for the respiratory and hospital markets, we believe that reacquiring these rights is a unique low-risk, high-reward opportunity for Cornerstone.”

Levels of the nuclear DNA-binding protein HMGB1 are raised following trauma or infection, Cornerstone explains. However, the firm adds, unlike other cytokines such as interleukin-1 or TNF-α, HMGB1 is expressed later in the inflammatory response and persists at raised levels in the bloodstream for longer.

Cornerstone maintains targeting HMGB1 could have potential utility in the treatment of sterile inflammatory disorders including stroke, heart attack, and arthritis, as well as inflammatory conditions caused by infection, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. It says two preclinical studies with human anti-HMGB1 antibodies have demonstrated early proof of concept.

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