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Cantargia selects CAN10 as development project in systemic sclerosis and myocarditis

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Cantargia has announced that its research platform CANxx has progressed with the start of a drug development project, CAN10.

The project originates from inhibition of three inflammatory cytokine systems (IL-1, IL-33 and IL-36) by antibody targeting of interleukin 1 receptor accessory protein (IL1RAP). The project will focus on unmet medical need in systemic sclerosis and myocarditis. The goal is to initiate clinical development late 2021.

The goal is to build on the platform of novel IL1RAP-binding antibodies

Cantargia develops antibody-based pharmaceuticals against the interleukin 1 receptor accessory protein (IL1RAP). The lead project CAN04 is in phase IIa clinical development for the treatment of pancreatic cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. With the CANxx platform, the goal is to build on the platform of novel IL1RAP-binding antibodies. IL1RAP is a unique target as it mediates signaling from three different disease-associated cytokine systems (IL-1, IL-33 and IL-36) involved in autoimmunity and inflammatory diseases.

A library of more than 100 well-characterized anti-IL1RAP antibodies

As part of the advancing CANxx platform, the company has generated a library of more than 100 well-characterized anti-IL1RAP antibodies. The development project CAN10 includes a proprietary group of antibodies that bind strongly to IL1RAP (affinity below 1 nM) and shows a potent inhibition of the three inflammatory cytokines IL-1, IL-33 and IL-36 (low nM range). With CAN10, Cantargia now advances two of these fully humanized lead antibodies to the next step of development. Here, generation of stable production systems will be constructed, before selecting one of these antibodies as clinical candidate and focusing development to one antibody. Taking two antibodies with similar biological properties into initial development offers an opportunity compared to the original strategy; it allows further studies of production and biophysical properties in parallel with other development activities, thus decreasing the project risk without jeopardizing timelines.

To focus the development process of CAN10, independent experts have performed an analysis of its potential to treat approximately 150 autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The analysis included interviews with key opinion leaders and covered a number of aspects, such as scientific rationale for the blockade of the three inflammatory cytokines, medical need, development opportunities and competition. Based on this analysis, the initial focus for development will be the two life-threatening diseases systemic sclerosis and myocarditis.

A big step forward for the company

In parallel to the activities above, Cantargia has generated data showing strong and unique anti-inflammatory effects in mouse disease models of inflammatory disease. The data show much stronger anti-inflammatory activity than antibodies blocking only IL-1β. CAN10 will now advance with further studies on preclinical efficacy and safety, with the goal to initiate the phase I clinical trial late 2021.

“The development of our IL1RAP platform is a big step forward for the company. We look forward to advancing the CAN10 project for the treatment of life-threatening diseases with few therapeutic options,” said Göran Forsberg, CEO at Cantargia.

As previously announced, Cantargia has an ongoing partnership with Panorama Research Inc in Sunnyvale, CA, USA, which will continue independently of CAN10 within the CANxx project.