Project 4 diverges from the treatment of lipid-related diseases but shares a synergy with the Lipisense® project (Project 1). Both initiatives target the same protein, ANGPTL4, using the same kind of candidate substance, an ASO (antisense oligonucleotide).
ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome), is a life-threatening condition leading to capillary leakage and pneumonia. ARDS can arise from various triggers, including bacterial infections like pneumonia, conditions such as sepsis, and viral infections, most notably the recent COVID-19 virus.
ARDS is an indication with very high medical needs due to the high mortality rate and the fact that it requires long intensive care and treatment options are limited.
With an annual incidence of about 500,000 patients across the US, Europe, and Japan, ARDS presents a considerable medical challenge. Approximately 40% of those diagnosed do not survive, highlighting the critical need for effective treatments. Presently, no approved drug specifically treats ARDS, emphasizing its high medical demand due to prolonged intensive care requirements and its significant mortality rate. The company assesses the ARDS market opportunity to be worth several billion USD.
A recent WHO analysis indicates ARDS as the primary cause of death among Covid-19 patients.
Beyond ARDS, there are potential pulmonary applications for an ANGPTL4 ASO. Elevated ANGPTL4 levels have been observed in patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), correlating with reduced lung function and inflammation. Additionally, several studies suggest that increased ANGPTL4 expression is linked to a poorer prognosis in certain lung cancers, while downregulation of ANGPTL4 can inhibit tumor growth.
This mechanism of action is pertinent not just for COVID-19 but also for seasonal flu, other viruses, and bacterial infections.
Existing Treatments on the Market
ARDS presents a significant medical challenge due to its high mortality rate and the extended periods of intensive care it necessitates.
For ARDS, current treatment primarily revolves around mechanical ventilation, using positive pressure to push fluid out of the alveoli and facilitate oxygenation. While this approach helps oxygenate the patient, it doesn't tackle the core issue: the inflamed lung tissue leaking fluid. In situations like SARS-CoV-2 infections, specific treatments for the infection are often lacking. Hence, a treatment targeting this fluid leakage could be beneficial, especially when antiviral and antibacterial medications are unavailable
Relevant Structural Deals
In 2021, Ardis Pharmaceuticals signed a license agreement with AstraZeneca for Suvratomxuamb, a Phase 3-ready monoclonal antibody, for USD 11 million.
In 2020, Novartis signed a USD 1.35 billion licensing agreement with Mesoblast for Remestemcel-L, aimed at treating acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).