Under the deal, Pulmatrix gained access to the kinase inhibitors that RespiVert has developed for lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Pumatrix also develops kinase inhibitors. RespiVert is a subsidiary of Janssen Biotech.
Kinase inhibitors block the kinase enzymes that are involved in inflammation and cancer. The agreement allows Pulmatrix to continue the development of, and commercialize, kinase inhibitors that RespiVert creates for both respiratory diseases and cancer.
“We believe these innovative compounds licensed from RespiVert will offer a new approach for treating lung inflammation in diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF),” Dr. Robert Clarke, the chief executive officer of Pulmatrix, said in a press release. “They are also perfectly suited for formulation with our iSPERSE technology.”
Pulmatrix uses its proprietary iSPERSE technology to develop inhaled therapies for pulmonary diseases. The technology is based on a dry powder that can fly into the lungs easier than other particles. ISPERSE can work with virtually any drug class — from small molecules to biologics — including RespiVert’s kinase inhibitors, according to Pulmatrix.
The agreement adds RespiVert’s kinase inhibitors to Pulmatrix’s pipeline of inhaled therapies for COPD, asthma, IPF and respiratory fungal infections.
“These new compounds will significantly expand what we believe is already an impressive [Pulmatrix] pipeline of drug candidates,” Clarke said. “Because these compounds have already been explored in a Phase 1 [clinical trial] program, we envision that we will be able to quickly move to clinical proof-of-concept studies,” another step toward regulatory approval.
Kinase inhibitors prevent enzymes known as protein kinases from adding a phosphate group to a protein. Adding the phosphate, a process known as phosphorylation, can turn a protein’s activity on or off, affecting its activity and function. Kinase inhibitors are designed to stop the development of a disease by preventing protein kinases from turning protein activity on or off.
Scientists have identified more than 500 kinases. They activate or shut down many cell processes, including the production of substances that mediate inflammation. Researchers have found many kinases activated in the lung cells of patients with asthma and COPD.
“Kinase inhibitors could be a very promising step forward for treating COPD and severe asthma,” said Dr. Peter J. Barnes, head of respiratory medicine at Imperial College, London. “Coupled with the innovative iSPERSE technology to facilitate delivery to the site of disease within the lung, Pulmatrix is poised to improve the available therapeutic landscape for these patients in need.”