Atopix Therapeutics Ltd ("Atopix"), a biopharmaceutical company developing a novel class of anti-allergic medicines, has been awarded a £1.7 million grant from the UK Biomedical Catalyst fund to pursue development of OC459 in the treatment of moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (a form of eczema).
Atopix has acquired rights to OC459 and other CRTH2 antagonists from Oxagen Ltd. OC459 has successfully completed proof-of-concept clinical trials in asthma and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis. OC459 is a highly potent and selective CRTH2 antagonist which is effective in asthma when given once a day at doses as low as 25 mg.
CRTH2 is a G protein coupled receptor that is selectively expressed by key cell types mediating allergic responses - Th2 lymphocytes, basophils and eosinophils - and is activated by prostaglandin D2, an abundant lipid product of mast cells. Mast cell-dependent activation of Th2 lymphocytes and eosinophils is blocked by CRTH2 antagonists which reduce both allergic sensitisation and effector responses to allergen. The prostaglandin D2/CRTH2 pathway is up-regulated in severe allergic conditions and functional polymorphisms in CRTH2 are associated with asthma and atopic dermatitis.
Atopix now plans to study the effect of once daily treatment with OC459 for 6 months in patients with atopic dermatitis whose condition is poorly controlled by existing therapies. The study is powered to detect an effect on flares, the major health economic burden in atopic dermatitis. The primary endpoint of the study will be the Eczema Activity Severity Index. Atopix will also determine whether functional genetic polymorphisms in CRTH2 influence the therapeutic response to OC459.
The award from the Biomedical Catalyst follows a £3.7 million Series A funding led by MPM Capital, SV Life Sciences and Wellington Partners with additional participation by Bessemer Partners and Red Abbey. In connection with the financing Luke Evnin, Managing Director of MPM Capital, Mike Carter Venture Partner at SV Life Sciences and Regina Hodits, General Partner at Wellington Partners have joined Tim Edwards (Chairman), Mark Payton (CEO), Alan Ezekowitz, CEO and Chairman of Abide Therapeutics and former SVP Respiratory and Immunology franchise at Merck Research Laboratories and Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University as members of the Board.
Mark Payton, CEO of Atopix, said: "In the past six months, Atopix has transformed itself from a semi-virtual to a fully formed clinical stage biopharmaceutical company. This award from the Biomedical Catalyst, on top of the earlier funding from our key investors, enables us to test this exciting new mechanism for the first time in atopic dermatitis and could provide the first safe, oral, once a day therapy for this disease. Furthermore, since the mechanism is also effective in asthma and allergic rhinitis this would provide a "one-stop" solution for those patients suffering from multiple co-existing allergies, whose only long term alternative at present is multiple topical therapy, usually involving steroids."