Arch-backed ImmusanT scraps PhII as celiac therapy flops in a key test
Arch helped provide ImmunsanT a $40 million round back in 2017 so it could afford a Phase II study for their lead therapy to stave off celiac disease. But that path wound up in a dead end today, as the startup revealed that it’s decided to abandon their mid-stage program after failing to witness anything like the efficacy needed to go on.
Celiac disease was ImmusanT’s test case for a platform technology designed to create immune system tolerance, using a peptide-based therapeutic vaccine in an approach they felt could be applied in diabetes as well as other autoimmune diseases.
Their conclusion today:
The results from an interim analysis revealed Nexvax2 did not provide statistically meaningful protection from gluten exposure for celiac disease patients when compared with placebo.
Everything else in the biotech’s pipeline — including 2 undisclosed programs — are in preclinical development.
In celiac disease, the immune system mounts an errant assault on the small intestines whenever patients consume even trace amounts of gluten, a common ingredient in a wide range of foods. For now, the only treatment is an absolutely strict diet, but every accident and attack can damage the intestines, leading to long-range health problems
“Scouring 17,000 peptides, we were able to create a hierarchy of the key components that trigger the T cell response,” CEO Leslie Williams told me back in 2017. “Celiac is a great model for disease because we know the antigen.”
It was a story that attracted Tom Daniel to the chairman’s role. The longtime scientist and Celgene vet has a role as a partner at Arch. Williams founded the company back in 2010, raising seed cash and then a $20 million round from Vatera.