SAN DIEGO, Aug. 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SRNE; Sorrento), a late-stage clinical oncology company developing new treatments for cancer and its associated pain, today announced that it has received funding to advance an immunotherapy targeting WNT1-Inducible Signaling Protein-1 (WISP1) for the potential treatment of IPF, which affects more than 100,000 Americans. As this disease progresses, scarring in the lungs increases and patients gradually lose the ability to breathe, leading ultimately to death in two to five years after diagnosis.
WISP1 (also known as CCN4) is an autocrine and paracrine extracellular stimulus involved in several detrimental profibrotic processes. Preclinical studies have shown that WISP1: 1) is induced in human lung cells by key profibrotic growth factors, such as TGF-B, 2) is upregulated at the alveolar epithelial surface in IPF; 3) causes protein induced hyperplasia and proliferation of alveolar epithelial cells accompanied by increased expression of matrix metalloproteinases and fibroblast-like phenotypic changes; 4) protein stimulates fibroblasts to deposit extracellular matrix in vitro: and 5) when depleted with neutralizing murine antibodies attenuates bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis in vivo.
Sorrento was awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which will support the development of the fully human anti-WISP1 antibodies discovered by Sorrento. The principal investigator on the SBIR grant is Sorrento's Senior Director of R&D Dr. Gunnar F. Kaufmann. He will work closely with Dr. Melanie Konigshoff at Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC) in Munich Germany, a widely recognized expert on developmental signaling pathways in chronic lung disease, including IPF.
"New anti-fibrotic drugs are desperately needed to treat IPF, which is a progressive, chronically debilitating clinical syndrome with unknown etiology and a terminal outcome. Therefore, we are grateful to NHBLI and NIH for their support of our anti-WISP1 antibody program," said Henry Ji, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Sorrento. "In addition, we are very excited to have received our third NIH grant this year supporting our innovative immunotherapies based on Sorrento's G-MAB antibody library, which will allow Sorrento to advance several antibody programs targeting unmet medical needs outside of oncology."
About Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. Sorrento is an oncology company developing new treatments for cancer and associated pain. Sorrento's most advanced asset Cynviloq™, the next-generation paclitaxel, commenced its registrational trial in March 2014 and is being developed under the abbreviated 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway. Sorrento is also developing RTX, a non-opiate TRPV1 agonist currently in a Phase 1/2 study at the NIH to treat terminal cancer patients suffering from intractable pain. The Company has made significant advances in developing human monoclonal antibodies, complemented by a comprehensive and fully integrated antibody drug conjugate (ADC) platform that includes proprietary conjugation chemistries, linkers, and toxic payloads. Sorrento's strategy is to enable a multi-pronged approach to combating cancer with small molecules, mono- and bispecific therapeutic antibodies, and ADCs.
More information is available at www.sorrentotherapeutics.com.
Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements under the safe harbor provisions of Section 21E of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Forward-looking statements include statements about commencing its Cynviloq registrational trial; and the advances made in developing human monoclonal antibodies, if any; and other matters that are described in Sorrento's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2013, and subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the risk factors set forth in those filings. Investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release and we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement in this press release except as required by law.
Acknowledgement of NIH Support The project described above is supported by Award Number 1 R41 CA189600-01 from the NCI. The content herein is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NCI or the NIH.
SOURCE Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc.