BOSTON, Sept. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- IFM Therapeutics (IFM), a privately-held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies that modulate novel targets in the innate immune system, today announced that IFM Due, an IFM subsidiary company, has reached a collaboration and exclusive option agreement with Novartis to develop a suite of immunotherapies that inhibit the cGAS/STING pathway to treat a range of serious inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will make fixed payments sufficient to fully finance IFM Due's research and development costs for the cGAS/STING program in exchange for the option to acquire the IFM Due subsidiary. Upon option exercise, IFM Due's shareholders will be entitled to consideration in aggregate value of up to $840 million, including an upfront payment upon option closing and other contingent consideration.
"IFM was founded to address novel targets of the innate immune system that are believed to underlie numerous serious conditions, said Gary D Glick, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of IFM. "In the four years since, we have developed an array of distinct small molecules for inflammatory disorders and cancer that are now in clinical development, demonstrating our team's ability to progress novel, high value programs rapidly. Today's announcement represents a significant milestone in the continued advancement of our pipeline."
Discovered only a decade ago, the cGAS/STING (cyclic GMP-AMP Synthase, Stimulator of Interferon Genes) pathway functions within the innate immune system to sense cytosolic DNA, which is a signal of cellular danger, and then triggers a STING-dependent inflammatory response. Mutations that activate this pathway can cause a variety of serious autoinflammatory and autoimmune diseases in humans that are characterized by excessive interferon/cytokine signaling, including rare diseases such as Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS), STING-associated vasculopathy with onset in infancy (SAVI) and a subset of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Aberrant cGAS/STING activation, such as in the setting of mitochondrial dysfunction, also underlies more common diseases such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Parkinson's disease.
"In the broad set of diseases where excessive production of interferon and other pro-inflammatory cytokines via the cGAS/STING pathway is an underlying driver, precisely targeting this pathway is the most attractive therapeutic approach," said H. Martin Seidel, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Research and Development at IFM. "We are excited to once again collaborate with Novartis, an industry leader who shares our belief in the powerful therapeutic potential of blocking the cGAS/STING pathway, and whose commitment to reaching patients aligns with ours."
"Today's collaboration between IFM's wholly owned subsidiary, IFM Due, and Novartis highlights the unique benefits of IFM's corporate strategy and structure. By housing each of IFM's distinct programs in a dedicated subsidiary, we can surgically tailor our financing strategy in a manner that preserves IFM's corporate flexibility, allowing us to pursue strategic partnerships that maximize shareholder value and accelerate the development of our pipeline," said Lina Gugucheva, Vice President of Business Development, Operations and Strategy at IFM. "Today's agreement with Novartis once again highlights the advantages of this model. We are pleased that since IFM's inception in 2015, through three separate transactions, each of IFM's programs and each launched IFM company has attracted an ideal partner with highly relevant expertise, helping to ensure these programs reach patients as quickly as possible."
IFM Due has two preclinical programs in development. The first is aimed at developing orally available, small-molecule antagonists of STING that can block its ability to stimulate excessive production of interferons and other pro-inflammatory cytokines. Clinical trials of the first STING antagonist are expected to begin in 2021. The second program is aiming to develop small-molecule inhibitors of cGAS, which will block the pathway at a more upstream node.
About IFM Due
IFM Due (pronounced du-way), a subsidiary of IFM Therapeutics, is a biopharmaceutical company developing a suite of small-molecule antagonists and inhibitors targeting aberrant inflammatory responses of the innate immune system triggered by the cGAS/STING pathway, which is believed to underlie a variety of serious diseases. The Company is developing small-molecule, orally available drug candidates to address a breadth of potential therapeutic indications, including rare, autoimmune, fibrotic, and neurodegenerative diseases.
About IFM Therapeutics
IFM Therapeutics (IFM) is a privately-held biopharmaceutical company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Company was founded by an international group of preeminent scientists and physicians following the sale of IFM Therapeutics, Inc. (originally founded by Gary D. Glick and Atlas Venture) to Bristol-Myers Squibb. IFM's team has discovered and developed small molecules that modulate novel targets in the innate immune system as next-generation therapies for cancer, auto-immunity, and inflammatory disorders. IFM places each program (or set of related programs) in its own dedicated, independently financed, R&D-focused subsidiary company, which is supported by the common infrastructure, management team and resources of the IFM enterprise. The Company owns and operates IFM Due, a subsidiary company launched in February 2019. For more information on IFM and its model, please visit https://www.ifmthera.com.
SOURCE IFM Therapeutics