U.K.-based Cypralis has been awarded funding by Innovate UK, under the latter’s BioMedical Catalyst initiative, to continue preclincial development of cyclophilin D inhibors as potential treatments for degenerative diseases, including pancreatitis, ischemias, and central nervous system degeneration. The award, amount undisclosed, follows the successful completion by Cypralis of a feasibility study, carried out with collaborators at the University of Liverpool, demonstrating that cyclophilin inhibitors protect against pancreatic cell death resulting from bile acids.

Follow-on research under the latest Innovate UK funding will aim to build on evidence supporting the role of cyclophilin inhibitors in acute pancreatitis. The work will be carried out in collaboration with the team of Robert Sutton, Ph.D., at the University of Liverpool, and with subcontractors Selcia, Hypha Discovery, and Aptuit. Simon Kerr, CEO of Cypralis, commented, “This further support from Innovate UK will enable Cypralis to select and progress one of our potent cyclophilin inhibitors through early preclinical development and toward clinical trial application filing during 2018. Existing data suggests that our compounds have significant potential for the treatment of acute pancreatitis, a serious disease for which there are no existing disease-modifying therapies.”

The University of Liverpool is a leading European center for pancreatology research. Prof. Sutton, Director of the NIHR Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit, commented, “The development of an effective drug for acute pancreatitis would have a transformational impact on the management of this common and serious disease for which there are currently no specific therapies. Our work at the University of Liverpool has demonstrated that drugs that block cyclophilin D can prevent or reduce damage to the pancreas occurring during an episode of acute pancreatitis. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Cypralis to advance cyclophilin D inhibitors as a new therapy for acute pancreatitis.”

Cypralis was spun out from U.K.-based Selcia in 2013 to develop inhibitors of peptidyl-prolyl isomerase (PPIase) enzyme targets. In July 2016 the firm acquired a portfolio of cyclophilin inhibitors and associated patents and know-how, from Scynexis. Cypralis is progressing preclinical programs targeting liver disease, acute tissue injury, and inflammation.

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