Helixmith to Present New ALS-Focused Development Program at Upcoming Conferences
LA JOLLA, Calif., Oct. 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Helixmith announced today that their CEO, Dr. Sunyoung Kim, will be presenting an overview of their ALS-focused program, named DART, Defeating ALS through Regenerative Therapeutics, at both the 2022 Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa and the 2022 BIO-Europe Conference. DART is unique in that it capitalizes on cell signaling pathways important in ALS pathogenesis and that three modalities are being investigated virtually simultaneously for ALS.
The first DART platform utilizes HGF/c-Met signaling pathway. Hepatocyte Growth Factor (HGF) is a multifunctional factor associated with neurotrophic, anti-fibrotic, anti-inflammatory and angiogenic activities. Its receptor, c-Met, is present in all major cell types important in ALS, including motor neurons, inflammatory macrophages, and skeletal muscles (such as the diaphragm and accessory muscles of respiration). Data from pre-clinical research demonstrated that HGF/c-Met signaling could produce strong anti-neuroinflammatory effects as well as promote axon outgrowth and motor neuron survival, restoring damaged upper and spinal motor neurons (UMN, SMN) and neuromuscular junction (NMJ), and improve muscle atrophy and motor functions.
The rationale of such a multi-modal parallel approach is as follows:
First, the cause of most ALS cases is unknown. Therefore, it is unlikely that the deployment of a single molecule (whether it be a small molecule or a biologic) will effectively treat all ALS cases, even if it were to work for a subset of patients. Helixmith is hence using an HGF that binds to key cell types involved in ALS pathogenesis, including motor neurons, macrophages, and skeletal muscles.
Second, it takes nearly 10 years to develop one drug candidate and have it tested in a phase 1 clinical trial. If Helixmith was to start working on the second product only after the first candidate fails, this is too slow for ALS patients’ urgent need for treatment. Therefore, Helixmith is testing three products almost simultaneously. Their aim is to get the results from the three clinical programs, including the phase 1 and phase 2 trials, within 5 years.
In DART, three modalities (plasmid DNA, AAV, and humanized antibodies) are being investigated, in parallel, at both clinical and pre-clinical stages.
Helixmith recently completed a Phase 1 and a Phase 2a clinical trial using Plasmid DNA-encoding HGF modality (Engensis or VM202). A small-scale phase 1/2 is planned in which plasmid DNA will be injected into the muscles involved in respiration, including the diaphragm.
Having obtained encouraging data on survival rates, motor neuron function, and motor function in animal models, an optimized AAV vector modality (NM301) has also been developed for clinical studies. Additionally, a fully humanized antibody modality (VM507) that binds to c-Met receptors and activates signaling has shown its effectiveness in a variety of disease models. The AAV and antibody modalities will be tested in phase 1 studies between 2024 and 2026.
Helixmith has the funding for a clinical study testing the effect of VM202 on respiration in ALS patients. To achieve their goal to complete clinical studies with two other modalities, Helixmith will need to raise additional capital.
The following are specific details regarding Helixmith’s presentation at the two conferences:
2022 Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa
October 11, 2022
2:45 pm PST
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, 7100 Aviara Resort Dr., Carlsbad, CA 92011
2022 BIO Europe
October 24 – 26, 2022
Dr. Kim’s Presentation is available on-demand to conference registrants at https://partneringone.informaconnect.com/event/725/content/presentations.
Helixmith is a clinical-stage gene therapy company headquartered in Seoul, Korea, developing new and innovative biopharmaceuticals to address previously untreated diseases, and is listed on the KOSDAQ. The company has an extensive gene therapy pipeline including a CAR-T program targeting several different types of solid tumors and an AAV vector program targeting neuromuscular diseases. Engensis (VM202), the most advanced pipeline candidate, is a plasmid DNA therapy being studied for diabetic foot ulcers (DFU), claudication, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).
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SOURCE Helixmith USA Inc.