BOSTON, Feb. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- IFM Therapeutics, LLC (IFM), a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies that modulate novel targets in the innate immune system, today announced the launch of IFM Due (pronounced du-way), a subsidiary company developing a suite of cGAS inhibitors and STING antagonists that aim to block excessive production of interferon and other pro-inflammatory cytokines via the cGAS/STING pathway, which is known to drive a range of serious diseases. The Company also announced that award-winning immunologist Andrea Ablasser, M.D., of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, will serve as Founding Scientist for IFM Due and join the Scientific Advisory Board for IFM. IFM Due is the second subsidiary launched by IFM.
"The cGAS/STING pathway is exciting because it enables us to focus on genetically validated therapeutic targets that have been implicated in a growing number of autoinflammatory and autoimmune disorders," said Gary D. Glick, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of IFM. "Building on the success of IFM and its subsidiary IFM Tre, we look forward to working with Dr. Ablasser and the IFM Due team to target this key innate immune system pathway with precision and deliver treatment options for patients that address significant unmet needs."
Discovered only a decade ago, the cGAS/STING (cyclic GMP-AMP Synthase, Stimulator of Interferon Genes) pathway is a part of the innate immune system that senses cytosolic DNA, which is a danger signal. When microbial or aberrant human DNA is present outside the cell nucleus in the cytosol, cGAS recognizes it and triggers a STING-dependent production of interferon and other inflammatory cytokines. Mutations that activate this pathway 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 also underlies more common diseases such as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and Parkinson's disease.
IFM Due will house two preclinical development programs. 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 2020. The second program is aiming to develop small-molecule inhibitors of cGAS, which will block the pathway at a more upstream node.
Dr. Andrea Ablasser Joins IFM Team
Dr. Andrea Ablasser joins IFM Due as Founding Scientist and will also serve as a Scientific Advisory Board member across the IFM umbrella of companies. In her role, she will provide insights and expertise to accelerate IFM Due's programs into human trials. Dr. Ablasser is a renowned immunologist who currently serves as assistant professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). She has received numerous accolades for her contributions to the field of innate immunity, including the prestigious 2018 National Latsis Prize and the 2018 Eppendorf Award for Young European Investigators. Dr. Ablasser previously completed postdoctoral research in the laboratory of Veit Hornung in Bonn, Germany.
"Understanding the cellular signaling processes of the cGAS/STING pathway is an essential step in developing successful new treatments for interferon-mediated autoinflammatory and autoimmune diseases," said Andrea Ablasser, M.D. "I am excited to work alongside the team at IFM to advance novel compounds into the clinic. By pairing the latest scientific insights from our labs with the drug development expertise of IFM's R&D team led by Dr. Martin Seidel, we have the potential to make a profound difference in the lives of patients."
About IFM Due
IFM Due, a subsidiary of IFM Therapeutics, LLC, 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, LLC
IFM Therapeutics, LLC (IFM) is a privately held biopharmaceutical company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Company was founded by an international group of preeminent scientists and physicians who have spent decades studying innate immunity and the role it plays in regulating the immune system. 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 owns and operates IFM Tre, a subsidiary company launched in July of 2018 that is developing a suite of small-molecule antagonists targeting inappropriate inflammatory responses driven by the NLRP3 inflammasome. For more information, please visit www.ifmthera.com.
SOURCE IFM Therapeutics, LLC