Noxopharm and Nyrada discover ‘major development’ for treatment of autoimmune diseases

Noxopharm ASX NOX Nyrada treatment autoimmune disease inhibit IRAK4
The new family of drug candidates inhibit the ‘master switch’ involved in inflammation and autoimmunity.

Biotech drug developer Noxopharm (ASX: NOX) has made an important drug discovery which could potentially help the company develop a treatment that mitigates the effects of autoimmune diseases.

According to Noxopharm’s CEO Graham Kelly, the finding serve as “an important plank to the Group’s ambitions to evolve into a global biotech company.”

Through its majority-owned subsidiary Nyrada, Noxopharm said it has discovered a way to inhibit IRAK4, a key “protein kinase in innate immune cells” and considered by clinicians as the “master switch” in the development of chronic inflammation, including a variety of autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s disease, lupus and psoriasis.

Following the discovery of IRAK4, Noxopharm is already considering deploying pre-clinical programs sometime in 2020.

James Bonnar, vice president of Nyrada said, “A lot of attention currently is being given to developing IRAK4 inhibitors for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and gouty arthritis and lupus, but we see our discovery as a breakthrough in providing the tools needed to address inflammatory and autoimmune diseases of the nervous system.”

In parallel to today’s news, Noxopharm’s management has admitted that it is already turning toward other applications that could be applied towards reducing the effects of other diseases including neuroinflammation, inflammation of the nervous tissue.

Mr Kelly said that “neuroinflammation has long been known to be associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. But recent evidence now shows that neuroinflammation is associated even with psychiatric conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.”

“At the patient level, it represents a realistic prospect for finally being able to provide treatment for a number of insidious diseases affecting the nervous system which have defied successful management to date,” said Mr Kelly.

Making progress

Earlier this month, the company announced that its phase 1 LuPIN study at St Vincents Hospital in Sydney was granted approval to double the number of treated patients and thereby shortening the path to market.

In recent years, IRAK4 has been established as “key switch” in the cells that form the body’s innate immune system.

Researchers believe that faulty IRAK4 behaviour in these innate immune cells is widely regarded as playing a key role in the development of many forms of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, and importantly for Noxopharm, opens the door for the company to develop methods to reverse the effects by regulating the activity of IRAK4.

This has led to IRAK4-inhibitors being widely hailed as the next generation of anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and psoriasis.

According to Noxopharm, it has discovered a “potent inhibitor” of IRAK4 and says that the future of its IRAK4 program lies in the treatment of inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system and the body’s peripheral nerves.

During its research and development work, Noxopharm found that IRAK4 could cross the barriers that prevent substances from entering the brain and peripheral nerves – a feat that most other currently marketed drugs cannot achieve.

Commercial intellectual property

After providing its update to the market this morning, Noxopharm said has already moved to secure the intellectual property rights to its drug discovery.

The biotech company lodged a provisional patent application and a Patent Cooperative Treaty (PCT) patent application with US regulators prior to revealing its discovery to the market.

“A lot of attention currently is being given to developing IRAK4 inhibitors for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and gouty arthritis and lupus, but we see our discovery as a breakthrough in providing the tools needed to address inflammatory and autoimmune diseases of the nervous system,” said James Bonnar, Vice-President, Research & Development of Nyrada.

“At the patient level, it represents a realistic prospect for finally being able to provide treatment for a number of insidious diseases affecting the nervous system which have defied successful management to date,” said Mr Kelly.

George is an award-winning market analyst who has authored articles and editorial opinion pieces for multiple publications around the world. He has written about a wide variety of topics including financial markets, stocks, trading, politics and economics.