Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘Inflammatory response’

Everybody who has sat too long in the sun knows how painful sunburn can be, and how ineffective current treatments such as topical creams can be.

Research by John Dawes and colleagues at King’s College London & University College London has shed new light on how sunburn causes pain.

They investigated the inflammatory response associated with ultraviolet B radiation of the skin and found that the chemokine CXCL5 (also known as epithelial-derived neutrophil-activating peptide-78) mediates UVB irradiation-induced pain in the skin of rats.

The results, published in Science Translational Medicine (STM), suggest that CXCL5 mediates UVB irradiation-induced pain and may be a target for the development of new analgesics or pain killers.

The elegant series of experiments done by Dawes and colleagues attempted to overcome one of the main challenges of pain research – the results from animal models don’t always predict pain relief in humans.

They designed custom-made Taqman array cards to determine the expression of inflammatory mediators in UVB treated rat and human skin, and found chemokine CXCL5 expression to be up-regulated in both rat and humans 40 hours after UVB treatment.

They then tested the hypothesis that CXCL5 was the cause of the pain, and that neutralization of this reduced mechanical hypersensitivity in rats and decreased the number of infiltrating cells. The STM paper is well worth reading for the series of experiments they performed.

Inflammation and inflammatory mediators are poorly understood in many diseases such as osteoarthritis (OA), so generating a better understanding of the underlying biology and mediators of inflammation is key to drug development.

It is too early to tell whether CXCL5 will turn out to be a druggable target, but the work by Dawes and colleagues is a good example of translational medical research worth exploring further.

ResearchBlogging.orgDawes, J., Calvo, M., Perkins, J., Paterson, K., Kiesewetter, H., Hobbs, C., Kaan, T., Orengo, C., Bennett, D., & McMahon, S. (2011). CXCL5 Mediates UVB Irradiation-Induced Pain Science Translational Medicine, 3 (90), 90-90 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3002193

Following on from yesterday’s news that Gilead had acquired Calistoga and CAL-101, another company that is exploring the interface between cancer and inflammation is Paris based AB Science.

Pharma Strategy Blog has an excellent interview with the CEO, Alain Moussy.  AB Science is an emerging French biopharmaceutical company, and I previously wrote about its IPO.

The company has adopted a unique market entry strategy of obtaining approval first in animal health for their tyrosine kinase inhibitor, masitinib.  In 2008, AB Science gained European approval for canine mast cell tumors and in December 2010 FDA approval.

The company recently announced that on February 8, 2011 it had its first US sale of masitinib to vets.

Masitinib is in fact a multi-kinase inhibitor that inhibits wild type and mutant forms of stem cell factor receptor (c-KIT, SCFR), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGFR), fibroblast growth factor 3 (FGFR3) and to a lesser degree, focal adhesion kinase (FAK).

Sally Church on the Pharma Strategy Blog has written about how AB Science’s strategy makes sense – if you look at Pfizer, they obtain more revenue from animal health than they do from oncology.  AB Sciences’ Masivet® in Europe, Kinavet® in the United States competes against Pfizer animal health’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor, Palladia® (toceranib), which also targets mast cell cancer in dogs.

Not only does this growth strategy generate revenue for an early-stage company like AB Science, it also allows the company to build a sales and marketing infrastructure in the United States and Europe while waiting for the results of pivotal phase 3 studies in humans.

The phase 2 clinical trial data for masitinib in combination with gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer were impressive (28% survival at 18 months).  The phase 3 clinical trial results are expected this year.  The clintrials.gov listing shows the date for the estimated primary completion date (Overall Survival) as November 2010 with study completion in November 2011.  Obviously the exact timing depends on how fast subjects were accrued, but I would be surprised if we didn’t see some data presented at ASCO or ESMO, especially if positive.

In terms of targeting inflammation, masitinib is in phase III development for mastocytosis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and asthma.  AB Science announced on January 27, 2011 the first patient recruited into their phase 3 study in severe asthma.

The company’s new product development strategy is way ahead of many of its competitors in identifying the links between cancer and inflammation, and choosing to target market opportunities in both areas.

AB Science is an exciting company to watch, and I expect that we will see important new data come out at major scientific meetings this year.

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