Immune Regulation, taking two clinical programs to 'reset' the immune system, nets $53M+ Series B
A little under two years after a company rebranding, Immune Regulation is taking an even bigger step toward advancing its goals.
Formerly known as Peptinnovate, the British biotech announced a $53.4 million Series B early Monday morning, helping to further advance two clinical programs in rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Though those are the two initial indications the company is focusing on, CEO Jonathan Rigby told Endpoints News he hopes the candidates can be applied to a broad swath of autoimmune disorders.
“We’re not looking for the needle in the haystack; we kind of have a haystack made out of needles,” Rigby said.
Monday’s round was led by Morningside Ventures and included funding from London-based 24Haymarket. Rigby expects the cash to go toward further Phase II trials in RA and allergic diseases and help the company build out its US infrastructure, giving the company runway through 2022.
The theory behind Immune Regulation’s science, Rigby says, is that its products can “reset” the immune system by interfering with the communication between dendritic cells and T cells when exposed to antigens, effectively reducing inflammatory responses without suppressing the body’s natural defenses. By doing so, this can help patients without exposing them to the potential infections that can afflict individuals taking immunosuppressive drugs.
Immune Regulation’s lead program, referred to as ‘1805, is a binding immunoglobulin protein that has completed a Phase IIa trial in RA for patients who had previously been unresponsive to other medicines. With data showing that the injectable ‘1805 induced remission out to 12 weeks, Rigby is taking aim at AbbVie’s Humira, asserting his products are more convenient than TNFs that need constant maintenance.
“These drugs require chronic dosing, so a patient takes an injection every couple of weeks or every month,” Rigby said, adding that the effects of ‘1805 last for several months.
‘1104, meanwhile, is a peptide that seeks to increase the expression of A20, reducing the inflammation response in asthma. Preparations for Phase II trials have already begun and Immune Regulation is expected to begin those at some point next year. The company is also looking at whether or not the program can be an effective therapeutic for patients hospitalized with Covid-19.
Trying to take a piece of Humira’s pie is a tall task for any biotech, let alone one that didn’t have any US employees before Rigby was appointed to steer the ship back in April. AbbVie’s blockbuster, approved in several indications such as arthritis, plaque psoriasis and ulcerative colitis, has been one of the world’s best-selling drugs for years and pulled in more than $19 billion in global sales last year.
But Rigby is confident that Immune Regulation has a fair chance to eat into, at the very least, some of that market share. Though he remained tight-lipped about which specific areas he’d take his programs, Rigby said the immediate next steps involve going into rare autoimmune diseases. Clinical trials for ‘1805 and ‘1104 in that field are also expected to begin next year.