Pharnext and Galapagos inked a collaboration focused on developing new therapeutic approaches that combine low doses of existing drugs with Galapagos’s preclinical candidates. The aim is to generate novel drug combinations that improve treatment efficacy. The partnership will hinge on Pharnext’s Pleotherapy™ platform, which the firm has until now been using to identify and patent low-dose combinations of approved drugs that are repurposed for new therapeutic indications. The Pleotherapy platform uses a genomic-based network pharmacology approach to understand the molecular pathways involved in disease and identify synergistic combinations of drugs that have previously been approved for other indications, against those pathways.

Financial details of the agreement between Pharnext and Galapagos have not been disclosed, but the firms say they will jointly own IP relating to drug combinations generated through the collaboration.

“At Pharnext we have demonstrated that deeper understanding of genetics and molecular networks that underpin pathologies is key to drug discovery,” said Daniel Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., Pharnext co-founder and CEO. “The R&D collaboration with Galapagos validates the value of Pharnext’s innovative platform, Pleotherapy. Thanks to this technology, our team has already produced two novel synergistic drug combinations in late-stage clinical development. Moreover, this collaboration will enlarge our product portfolio with drug combinations including also new compounds.”

Onno van de Stolpe, Galapagos CEO, added, “Pharnext has already obtained promising clinical results with its cutting-edge technology, which has encouraged us to collaborate. We are very pleased to collaborate with Pharnext and to benefit from Pharnext’s expertise in deciphering diseases’ molecular networks. We hope that this will reinforce Galapagos’ R&D capabilities to generate new therapeutic approaches in a highly efficient and modern manner.”

French firm Pharnext is developing Pleodrug™ combinations for neurodegenerative and orphan diseases. The firm’s lead clinical-stage combination candidate PXT3003 is an oral solution of baclofen, naltrexone, and sorbitol. PXT3003 is currently in in Phase III development for the treatment of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A and has orphan drug designation in Europe and the U.S. Topline data from the Phase III study is expected during mid-2018. Pharnext’s second clinical candidate PXT864 is an oral combination of baclofen and acamprosate. The drug combination has generated positive data in Phase II studies against Alzheimer’s disease, and Phase IIa studies with PXT864 against Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. (ALS) are also being planned.

Belgium-based Galapagos separately today reported the start of two Phase II trails investigating its lead compound filgotinib in patients with small bowel Crohn’s disease and in patients with fistulizing Crohn’s disease. The trials will be led by Galapagos’s partner Gilead. Filgotinib is a selective Janus kinase 1 (JAK1) inhibitor that is undergoing Phase III development for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. Galapagos and Gilead teamed up in 2015 to develop filgotinib for inflammatory indications.

Galapagos also has four clinical candidates undergoing Phase II trials and three more in Phase I evaluation. The firm’s cystic fibrosis (CF) program is partnered with AbbVie. Last month, Galapagos started a Phase I study in healthy volunteers evaluating a combination of the CF potentiator candidate GLPG2451 and the C1 corrector GLPG2222 as potential components of triple therapy for CF. Also in February, the firm started a Phase IIa study with GLPG222 as an add-on to Kalydeco® therapy.

Galapagos separately has an ongoing osteoarthritis program with Servier, which includes the Phase I–stage candidate GLPG1972. And since 2008, Galapagos has had an inflammatory diseases partnership with MorphoSys, which has yielded the Phase I–stage interleukin-17C (IL-17C)-targeting monoclonal antibody MOR106.  

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