Compugen Ltd. (NASDAQ: CGEN) and the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation announced today that the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation will provide a grant to scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Dorothy P. and Richard P. Simmons Center for Interstitial Lung Disease to independently evaluate the therapeutic potential of CGEN-25009 for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a devastating disease with no current effective treatment and which is estimated to affect more than five million people worldwide.
CGEN-25009, a novel peptide agonist of the relaxin receptor, was discovered during the validation stage of Compugen's GPCR Peptide Ligand Discovery Platform. As already announced by Compugen, studies conducted by Professor Daniele Bani, a world expert in the field of relaxin and fibrotic diseases from the University of Florence (Italy), previously demonstrated the therapeutic effect of CGEN-25009, leading to robust reduction of the fibrotic tissue in the lungs of mice induced with pulmonary fibrosis. The results of Professor Bani's studies conducted with CGEN-25009 were recently published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.
Substantial worldwide research efforts have recently demonstrated that the natural peptide hormone relaxin, in addition to its historical role as the "pregnancy hormone," is multi-functional and affects a range of tissues. Known to activate the LGR7(RXFP1) G protein-coupled receptor, the diverse and vital roles of relaxin include protective cardiovascular and anti-fibrotic activity, and roles in reproductive health, wound healing, fertility and ageing.
"Our experiments are designed to further establish the anti-fibrotic properties of CGEN-25009 in multiple animal models of fibrosis, to elucidate the mechanism of CGEN-25009's anti-fibrotic effects, and to prioritize potential biomarkers for the study of CGEN-25009 in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis," said study leader Dr. Daniel Kass, Assistant Director for Novel Therapeutics and Translational Research at the Simmons Center.
"It is exciting that patient advocacy groups such as the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation are spearheading the effort to enhance collaborations between industry and academia in finding the cure for IPF," said co-investigator and Simmons Center director Dr. Naftali Kaminski, Professor of Medicine, Pathology, Human Genetics and Computational Biology. "This effort could generate significant insights that will potentially change our understanding and management of lung fibrosis."
Dr. Dan Rose, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, added, "Our Foundation is very excited to be able to fund these important next steps in the therapeutic evaluation of this very promising discovery. We hope that these efforts will lead to a follow-up collaborative development program and ultimately to an effective treatment for this devastating disease."
"Compugen is very enthusiastic regarding this collaboration designed to further evaluate CGEN-25009, an attractive product candidate with potential use not only in fibrosis, a key unmet medical need, but also in other clinical indications, such as labor complications, infertility and heart failure," said Dr. Anat Cohen-Dayag, Compugen's president and CEO. "As previously disclosed, Compugen is focusing its discovery and development efforts towards addressing unmet medical needs in the fields of oncology and immunology through the use of novel protein and antibody therapeutics. However, our underlying predictive discovery capabilities are broadly applicable and as part of the development and validation activities associated with establishing these capabilities, a number of very promising discoveries were made in other areas of medical need, both therapeutic and diagnostic. Therefore, although our primary business development efforts are directed towards our oncology and immunology Pipeline Program and 'discovery on demand' activities, we are now in various discussions for arrangements with other organizations to advance certain of these earlier discoveries, including a number of promising novel peptides, largely without the need for further Compugen financial resources, such as the collaboration being announced today."