Japan Tobacco’s product candidate inhibits a receptor that has a role in controlling adaptive immune responses.

MedImmune obtained the rights to develop and commercialize Japan Tobacco’s (JT) preclinical antibody drug candidate for the treatment of certain inflammatory diseases. Under the license agreement, MedImmune will develop JT’s Mab targeting pathways within the CD28 receptor family.

JT’s Mab aims to inhibit a receptor believed to play a key role in controlling adaptive immune responses, called inducible-costimulator (ICOS). Through this mechanism it regulates T-cell dependent activation of B cells, which is implicated in a variety of autoimmune disorders. Preclinical study results indicate that ICOS is only expressed on a subset of T cells.
In addition, ICOS is required for IL-17 secretion from activated T cells. IL-17 is a T-cell derived cytokine that is implicated in the development of various inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. In preclinical studies, MedImmune reports that ICOS-inhibition with Mabs was shown to be effective in models of rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis, and lupus.

“The addition of this novel target to MedImmune’s inflammatory disease pipeline underscores our commitment to developing innovative therapies for the treatment of unmet medical needs, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogrens syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis,” comments Anthony J. Coyle, Ph.D., MedImmune senior director, research, and head, inflammation biology. “As we work to develop the anti-ICOS Mab as a potential treatment for such immune system disorders, we also hope to continue to collect scientific knowledge related to the role of signaling pathways in regulating immune response outcomes.”

Under the terms of the agreement, JT will receive an undisclosed upfront payment, milestone payments, and royalties on marketed products. JT retains exclusive development and marketing rights for the current lead antibody in Japan, and MedImmune to the rest of world. Additionally, MedImmune claims certain rights worldwide for other antibodies developed under this agreement.

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