RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — RTI International is teaming up with a local biopharma startup to develop a treatment for a rare lung disease.
The independent, nonprofit research institute and APIE Therapeutics, both based in RTP, have signed a licensing agreement for a portfolio of apelin receptor agonist compounds developed by RTI for their potential use in treating diopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and heart failure.
Under the terms of the license agreement, which was facilitated by RTI’s Commercialization team, APIE Therapeutics receives worldwide exclusive rights under RTI patents and patent applications to develop, manufacture and sell therapeutic candidates for treatment of IPF, heart failure and other diseases.
Financial terms of the agreement was not disclosed. However, it is understood that RTI will received a financial stake in APIE Therapeutics.
“We are excited for future possible life-improving and life-saving outcomes that may result from our compounds entering the APIE Therapeutics portfolio,” said Allen Mangel, M.D., Ph.D., executive vice president of discovery sciences and RTI Health Solutions, in a statement. “We look forward to discoveries in the future”
The compounds developed by RTI researchers interact with the apelin receptor, which is found in the cell membrane of several organs in humans and animals. Research suggests that stimulation of apelin receptors can promote cell survival and regeneration, in addition to limiting airway damage.
“Our mission at APIE Therapeutics is to develop a portfolio of anti-fibrosis therapies to bring improved health outcomes to patients across the world. Our initial target therapy is IPF, and we intend to start clinical trials in the U.S. in early 2022,” said Esther Alegria, Ph.D., chief executive officer at APIE Therapeutics, in a statement.
IPF is a fatal disease that causes scarring and destruction of lung tissue, which subsequently leads to loss of lung function. It is most common in older adults. The disease has an estimated survival rate of two-five years from diagnosis and 30-40,000 new cases of IPF are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.