IMU-856 Restores Gut Barrier Function, Key for Halting IBD Progression, Preclinical Data Suggests

IMU-856 Restores Gut Barrier Function, Key for Halting IBD Progression, Preclinical Data Suggests
The oral small molecule IMU-856, now being developed by Immunic Therapeutics, strengthens and improves the barrier function of intestinal cells while having little to no effect on the immune system, preclinical data show. The maintenance of a strong intestinal wall is essential for gastrointestinal health, as a leaky gut is one of the causes of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Immunic plans to launch its first Phase 1 clinical trial testing single and multiple ascending doses of IMU-856 by the end of June. Hella Kohlhof, PhD, Immunic's chief scientific officer, detailed the findings of the company's promising preclinical study in a presentation titled “IMU-856: A Small Molecule Modulator Restoring the Gut Barrier Function” at the IBD Innovate: Product Development for Crohn’s and Colitis Conference, held recently in New York. In IBD patients, the cellular junctions that stitch cells together in the intestinal epithelium — the cell layer that forms the lining of both the small and large intestines in the gastrointestinal tract — are weakened, resulting in a leaky gut and lower nutrient absorption. Moreover, the barrier function of the intestinal wall is compromised, which allows bacteria to penetrate the deeper tissue and trigger an immune response and further inflammation. IMU-856, originally developed by Daiichi Sankyo, is an oral small molecule whose target is an as yet undisclosed enzyme, mainly present in the epithelial cells of the colon and small intestine. It works by regulating genes linked with intestinal cell interactions and adhesion. The investigational therapy is called an epigenetic regulator because it can turn genes on or off without changing their DNA sequence. In vitro (in the lab) studies with epithelial cells of the int
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