Brickell Biotech Targeting MS and Other Autoimmune Diseases

Patricia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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MS therapy

Brickell Biotech, Inc., a pharmaceutical company developing novel therapies in the field of dermatology, recently announced it has exclusive worldwide rights over a series of new, retinoic acid-related orphan nuclear receptor gamma (RORy) inhibitors from the New York University (NYU) and Orca Pharmaceuticals. As part of the agreement, Brickell will be responsible for the continued research and development of the inhibitors as potential treatments for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS).

ROR are receptors in the nucleus of the cells. RORy plays an important role in the body’s immune response, lymph node development, and survival of immune T helper 17 cells (Th17). RORy is involved in the conversion of certain immune cells into pro-inflammatory Th17 cells, which produce cytokines (like IL-17) and ultimately lead to inflammation. Th17 cells are known to be involved in the MS pathogenesis.

Inhibitors of RORy can decrease inflammation by inducing a reduction in the formation of Th17 cells and in the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Due to their properties, these inhibitors could be useful therapeutic agents against several autoimmune diseases, from MS and arthritis to psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

“We are excited about this new agreement, which further demonstrates Brickell’s commitment to the development of new molecular entities targeting well-known mechanisms of action in the field of medical dermatology. RORy inhibition targets the pathway of a validated cytokine (IL-17) that has been implicated in the pathogenesis of psoriasis. Monoclonal antibodies targeting IL-17 have recently shown significant efficacy in the treatment of psoriasis, and we are very encouraged about the opportunity to develop a topically applied, potent and selective small-molecule therapeutic targeting this pathway,” said Dr. Patricia Walker, president and chief scientific officer at Brickell, in a press release.

“This announcement is the latest in a series of agreements for Brickell that strengthen the company’s position as a global leader in dermatological drug development,” added Charles Stiefel, chairman, Board of Directors, Brickell. “With this latest transaction, our pipeline now consists of five product candidates, including potential novel therapeutics for hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, acne and psoriasis.”

The inhibitors were developed based on intellectual property from the research laboratory of Professor Dan Littman at NYU School of Medicine.

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