Ferring Pharmaceuticals and Shangai-based biotech IMAB signed a licensing agreement granting IMAB exclusive rights to olamkicept (pINN), a potential drug for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in Asia.
Under the terms of the agreement, IMAB will have a Phase 2-ready asset with differentiated product profile. IMAB will be responsible for paying for additional product development, and will have an exclusive license in Asia with an option for global use. The goal is to establish the therapeutic potential of olamkicept as a biomarker-guided and blocker of the interleukin-6 pathway to treat autoimmune diseases such as IBD.
“We are very pleased to acquire the opportunity to further advance olamkicept and build on Ferring’s encouraging Phase 1 results in volunteers and in patients,” Jingwu Zang, president and CEO of IMAB, said in a press release. “This agreement will accelerate IMAB’s mission to develop impactful therapies for autoimmune disease.”
“IMAB has a strong network of researchers and physicians in the autoimmune area in China and a willingness to develop our drug further in Asia and around the world,” said Alan Harris, senior vice president of research and development for Ferring Pharmaceuticals. “We are pleased to partner with IMAB in progressing our drug in this important therapeutic area with many unmet medical needs.”
IBDs are chronic, relapsing, and destructive inflammatory disorders of the colon and small intestine that cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, severe internal cramps or muscle spasms in the region of the pelvis, along with weight loss.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the principal types of inflammatory bowel disease in genetically susceptible people leading to an inappropriate immune activation and resulting in the over-production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. The interleukin-6 (IL-6) pathway is a key modulator of inflammatory response and is associated with inflammatory conditions such as IBD and rheumatoid arthritis.
Olamkicept is a new recombinant protein inhibitor of the IL-6 pathway and a potential treatment option for patients with IBD and other autoimmune diseases, without affecting the beneficial effects of IL-6, such as the immune response to infection.
According to Ferring’s press release, olamkicept’s safety has been demonstrated in a Phase 1 clinical trial.