With Korro Bio merger in works, Frequency stops program for MS

Company now looking for ways to 'monetize' lead remyelination therapy

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

Share this article:

Share article via email
This illustration shows a handshake, close up, between two people.

With a planned merger in the works, Frequency Therapeutics is no longer advancing its remyelination therapies for multiple sclerosis (MS), and instead is exploring “strategic alternatives for the program,” the company has announced.

The regenerative medicine company, which had aimed to develop a new approach to treating MS — by repairing the myelin sheath that protects nerve fibers and is damaged in the neurodegenerative disorder — now is merging with Korro Bio, which specializes in innovative genetic therapies, according to a joint press release.

“Frequency Therapeutics has discontinued development of its remyelination program for multiple sclerosis,” the release stated, noting the company aims to “monetize” the program “prior to the closing of the proposed merger.”

“Following comprehensive review and consideration of our strategic options, management and our Board of Directors believe the merger with Korro Bio provides the best opportunity for the company and its stockholders,” said David Lucchino, CEO of Frequency.

Recommended Reading
An illustration of damaged myelin along a nerve cell fiber.

Frequency moving to test agents with remyelination potential

Frequency’s lead candidate, FREQ-162, showed promise in mouse model

As explained in a joint webcast, the newly merged company, which will operate under the name Korro Bio, will focus on Korro Bio’s existing therapeutic programs. As such, Frequency has halted its lead preclinical program in MS, which aimed to activate certain precursor cells in the body to achieve remyelination — “and potential functional recovery” for patients.

Frequency had announced earlier this year that it would be focusing on the development of small molecules that could promote remyelination by binding to a newly identified target. The goal was to induce the maturation of myelin-producing cells called oligodendrocytes.

Preclinical data had shown that the company’s lead candidate, FREQ-162, triggered the maturation of oligodendrocytes in a mouse model of myelin loss, or demyelination — which in turn increased myelin production.

Experimental small molecules were found in May to promote oligodendrocyte maturation in several mammals, improving the company’s ability to predict the doses needed for human studies, according to Frequency. Treatment with the small molecules at that time also was associated with significant improvements in MRI measures.

With the merger, the company now is looking for alternatives for its remyelination program.

The new Korro Bio instead will focus on the development of RNA editing therapies for both rare and common diseases. Such treatments target messenger RNA or mRNA, the intermediate molecule derived from DNA that guides protein production.

The company’s technology, called OPERA — short for Oligonucleotide Promoted Editing of RNA — focuses on altering the sequence of mRNA with an aim to normalize protein production in people with genetic mutations.

“RNA editing, specifically utilizing our OPERA platform, holds significant promise to transform the therapeutic landscape for rare and common diseases,” said Ram Aiyar, PhD, Korro Bio’s CEO. “The ability to make a single base change on RNA using a simple drug product provides an opportunity to modify disease in an unprecedented manner.”

Lucchino said that “Korro Bio’s RNA editing technology leverages genetics [temporarily], expanding the target space to intervene in biology in a unique manner.”

“We are confident in their ability to bring forward important genetic medicines with the potential to transform the lives of patients,” Lucchino said.

Korro Bio’s lead program targets the genetic disorder alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), which is caused by mutations that result in abnormally low levels of the A1AT protein.

“The power of our OPERA platform is exemplified by our lead program in AATD, where we have demonstrated an increase of normal A1AT protein to 85% of total protein in circulation, which has the potential of disease-modifying effects,” Aiyar said.

Korro Bio’s early-stage pipeline focused on Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — like MS, other neurodegenerative diseases — cardiometabolic conditions, liver disease, and pain-related conditions.

“We are committed to creating value for Korro Bio’s and Frequency Therapeutics’ stockholders as we work to develop a novel class of innovative medicines that have the potential to improve the lives of patients,” Aiyar added.