RARE Daily

RTI International Teams with APIE Therapeutics to Develop Treatment for IPF

August 26, 2020

Rare Daily Staff

Nonprofit research institute RTI International and APIE Therapeutics announced a licensing agreement for a portfolio of apelin receptor agonist compounds developed by RTI for their potential use in the development of a treatment for the rare disorder idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a serious, life-limiting lung disease characterized by fibrosis and scarring of lung tissue with a median survival of 3 to 5 years after diagnosis. Replacement of normal lung tissue by fibrosis results in restriction in the ability to fill the lungs with air and decreased transfer of oxygen from inhaled air into the bloodstream resulting in lower oxygen delivery to the brain and other organs. Patients with IPF most often suffer from progressive shortness of breath, particularly with exertion; chronic cough; fatigue and weakness; and chest discomfort.

Currently approved drugs slow down but do not halt disease progression and the only curative therapy is lung transplant, an option available for a small group of patients. While estimates vary, it is believed that IPF could affect approximately 130,000 patients in the United States and approximately 76,000 patients in Europe.

Under the terms of the license agreement, which was facilitated by RTI’s commercialization team, APIE Therapeutics receives worldwide exclusive rights under RTI patents and patent applications to develop, manufacture and sell therapeutic candidates for treatment of IPF, heart failure and other diseases. The agreement grants RTI a financial stake in APIE Therapeutics. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Our team in discovery sciences, due to their hard work and innovation, was able to forge a relationship with APIE Therapeutics. We are excited for future possible life-improving and life-saving outcomes that may result from our compounds entering the APIE Therapeutics portfolio. We look forward to discoveries in the future,” said Allen Mangel, executive vice president of discovery sciences and RTI Health Solutions.

The compounds developed by RTI researchers interact with the apelin receptor, which is found in the cell membrane of several organs in humans and animals. Research suggests that stimulation of apelin receptors can promote cell survival and regeneration, in addition to limiting airway damage.

“Our mission at APIE Therapeutics is to develop a portfolio of anti-fibrosis therapies to bring improved health outcomes to patients across the world. Our initial target therapy is IPF, and we intend to start clinical trials in the U.S. in early 2022,” said Esther Alegria, CEO at APIE Therapeutics.

RTI will continue to provide technical support to APIE Therapeutics during the development process.

“We see significant follow-on potential of these compounds in other important diseases such as heart failure and metabolic syndrome,” said Scott Runyon, senior director of the Center for Drug Discovery at RTI. “We are exploring these possibilities through ongoing research at RTI.” 

Photo: Esther Alegria, CEO at APIE Therapeutics.


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