Strong potential for POLB 001 to be a blockbuster treatment for severe influenza
· POLB 001 resulted in a highly significant reduction in p38 MAP kinase driven cytokines
· POLB 001 treatment exhibited a marked reduction in multiple markers of systemic and local inflammation compared with placebo
· Trial results demonstrate expected utility in severe influenza and other acute inflammatory conditions
2 March 2023 – Poolbeg Pharma (AIM: POLB, OTCQB: POLBF, ‘Poolbeg’ or the ‘Company’), a leading infectious disease focused biopharmaceutical company, announces the data readout from the bacterial lipopolysaccharide (‘LPS’) human challenge trial for POLB 001, a viral strain agnostic, small molecule immunomodulator being developed to address the unmet medical need arising from severe influenza and other acute inflammatory conditions. POLB 001 was shown to be safe and well tolerated and had a potent effect in systemic and localised inflammatory response in a dose dependent manner.
About the LPS Challenge Trial
A total of 36 healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 were enrolled and completed the trial. Subjects treated with POLB 001 exhibited a marked reduction in multiple markers of systemic and localised inflammation compared with placebo. p38 MAPK target engagement within circulating blood cells caused a substantial ablation of blood cytokines which are synonymous with cytokine release syndrome (‘CRS’) common in severe influenza, patients receiving CAR T cell treatment and other acute inflammatory conditions.
Systemic Inflammatory Response
The typical LPS-induced rise in plasma cytokine levels (TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-8) decreased between 57-81% across all cytokines in subjects treated with 70 mg or 150 mg POLB 001 (all highly significant P values <0.0003).
POLB 001 was shown to have the following dose dependent effects:
– blunted the LPS associated rise in heart rate across all dose groups (P<0.001)
– reduced body temperature and C-reactive protein (‘CRP’) levels, a clinically used nonspecific marker of inflammation
– target engagement causing a dose dependent reduction in p38 phosphorylation activation status in white blood cells
Localised Inflammatory Response
POLB 001 infiltration into inflamed tissues blocked localised cytokine release and reduced invasion of tissue damaging inflammatory cells as reflected by:
– complete ablation of tissue damaging neutrophil accumulation within the inflamed tissue
– LPS-induced rise in intermediate monocytes (inflammatory mediators) was substantially lower in subjects treated with 70 mg or 150 mg POLB 001
– a highly significant reduction in TNF-α in subjects treated with 150 mg POLB 001 of 65.1% (P<0.0009)
Virtual Company presentation
Jeremy Skillington, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, David English, VP of Business Development and key opinion leader Derek Gilroy, PhD, Professor of Immunology at University College London, will provide a live presentation via the Investor Meet Company platform on Thursday 2 March 2023 at 10am. Click here to register.
The presentation is open to analysts and all existing and potential shareholders. Investors can sign up to Investor Meet Company for free and add to meet Poolbeg Pharma plc here. The presentation and recording will be available on the Company’s website after the event here.
Jeremy Skillington, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Poolbeg Pharma, said: “Together these data indicate POLB 001 reaches all cells and tissues where p38 MAPK is expressed, shutting down inflammation and silencing multiple aspects of overactivated inflammation unlike many anti-inflammatory drugs that target a single immune pathway.
POLB 001 blocks inflammation both locally and systemically and in a manner that suggests efficacy in treating life-threatening infections such as severe influenza or the CRS associated with other acute inflammatory conditions. POLB 001 has the potential to be an effective treatment in a wide range of inflammatory syndromes that present serious and life-threatening complications for patients. Due to our parallel clinical programs with POLB 001 we are particularly excited that these results support continued clinical investigation in both indications, and that we can share this positive data with potential Pharma partners ahead of schedule.”
Derek Gilroy, Ph.D, Professor of Immunology at University College London, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic, more than anything in recent memory, has shown how bereft we are of the medicines needed to treat infections, and stop our immune system from killing us. With such pandemics increasing in frequency, it’s only a matter of time before we face yet another crisis.
Poolbeg Pharma has risen to this challenge. POLB 001 has shown substantial promise in dampening the key players of harmful inflammation in both blood and tissues, acting where the immune system can do harm. These exciting data, and safety profile, support a role for POLB 001 beyond infectious diseases into treating a range of acute, aggressive immune responses.”
About POLB 001 and the LPS Human Challenge Trial
POLB 001 is a small molecule immunomodulator for the treatment of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) related conditions such as severe influenza and other acute inflammatory conditions. POLB 001 selectively inhibits overwhelming inflammation in viral infections, such as influenza, while leaving the necessary immune functions intact to fight the infection. This contrasts with other immunomodulatory approaches, such as steroids, which affect both beneficial and damaging immune responses. Due to its mode of action it is strain agnostic and unaffected by seasonal variants which is a significant advantage over treatments available on the market. In addition, as a shelf stable oral drug it is an ideal stock piling candidate for both seasonal and pandemic outbreaks. Therefore, POLB 001 has the potential to be a transformational treatment for patients and to become a leading severe influenza treatment.
Cytokines, originally intended to optimise immunity, when overexpressed can sweep throughout the body re-programming white blood cells causing tissue damage, shutting down circulation and other essential organs leading to death; a process called septic shock and in certain circumstances cytokine storm or cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Such excessive cytokine responses can be seen in diseases such as severe influenza and in response to chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy (CAR T cell) treatment of cancers. Poolbeg continues to evaluate POLB 001’s potential in additional indications to fully unlock the potential value of the molecule.
p38 MAP kinase (p38 MAPK) is a master regulator of immunity, ubiquitously expressed in all white blood cells where it is poised to unleash inflammation. Poolbeg’s clinical approach, inhibiting p38 MAP kinase hypothesised that it’s a prime suspect in driving the cytokine storm and its consequences. This has now been demonstrated as a concept in a human clinical model of infectious disease and endotoxin mediated inflammation administering LPS as the endotoxin to healthy volunteers. LPS is a bacterial product that mimics infection and is used to capture the hallmarks of both local and systemic inflammation typical of a cytokine storm in humans, but in a safe, controlled and quantifiable manner – it’s one step removed from the infected critical care patient. The trial was conducted at the Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR) in the Netherlands with Principal Investigator Dr Matthijs Moerland.
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Poolbeg Pharma Plc
Jeremy Skillington, CEO
Ian O’Connell, CFO
+44 (0) 207 183 1499
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