Aslan doubles down on CSL drug, plots longshot rivalry with Dupixent in atopic dermatitis
When Aslan Pharmaceuticals licensed the anti-IL13 receptor drug ASLAN004 from CSL, the plan was to hustle it through early-stage development then pass it off to a third company for commercialization. But after seeing some proof-of-concept data, the Singaporean biotech has decided to keep the drug for itself instead.
In an amended deal, Aslan is pledging $30 million payable once it launches a Phase III. And CSL — which previously was entitled to about half of any licensing revenue — now stands to receive $95 million in regulatory milestones and $655 million more for future sales, plus royalties.
So what got Aslan so excited? In their words:
Recently announced data from the first part of the study demonstrated that ASLAN004 was safe and well tolerated at all doses when administered intravenously. Analysis of downstream mediators including phosphorylation of STAT6, a critical mediator of allergic inflammation, demonstrated complete inhibition within one hour of dosing, which was then maintained for more than 29 days.
By targeting IL-13Rα1, ASLAN004 inhibits signaling of both IL-4 and IL-13 — something that the partners originally thought would lead them to an asthma treatment. But the pathways also trigger symptoms of allergy in atopic dermatitis, and that is a big opportunity with 200 million patients worldwide. Up to one-third of the adult patients are considered moderate-to-severe and thus in need of new options.
Its drug has more selective binding than Regeneron and Sanofi’s blockbuster Dupixent, Aslan claims, which translates to a better side effect profile.
A success here would be crucial to the turnaround story that CEO Carl Firth is trying to narrate after a Phase II failure of Aslan’s lead cancer drug forced a reckoning this January. CMO Bertil Lindmark hit the exit as the biotech slashed staff and shuttered a trial.
Its stock — barely half of its IPO price of $7 — is down around 1% in pre-market trading.
Aslan is testing a subcutaneous formulation in the second part of the study, with plans to begin a multiple ascending dose trial later this year.
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