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The Rockefeller University in New York. Ravetch found that antibodies that featured the sugar molecules called sialic acid were responsible for anti-inflammatory activity in IVIG treatments, according to Virdante. The company is working with Ravetch’s lab to further its research of these molecules and discover ways to apply them to other antibody drugs. It calls the method it uses to increase the anti-inflammatory properties of antibodies its “Sialic Switch” technology.
The second drug in Virdante’s pipeline is an antibody fragment that is linked to sialic acid, and the therapy will be developed to treat unspecified autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, according to the company. Yet it’s still early days at the company. Both of the firm’s two main development programs haven’t been tested in humans, and Ripple declined to reveal the expected timeline for advancing the company’s drugs into human clinical trials.
Virdante is currently operating in labs and offices in Kendall Square leased from Cambridge, MA-based biotech heavyweight Biogen Idec (NASDAQ:BIIB), one floor above the company’s Biogen Idec Innovation Incubator. In fact, Ripple was previously CEO of Waltham, MA-based Syntonix Pharmaceuticals, which Biogen acquired in 2007. Ripple told me that Biogen and others initially brought him in as a consultant to Virdante, which was previously called Centaurus Pharmaceuticals, and he became CEO around the time of the first closing of the Series A round in early 2008.
Ripple is no stranger to me, since he’s been declining my requests for interviews about Virdante for years. But he says that the firm has now reached a point where it is comfortable enough with the progress of its drugs to begin talking to reporters, and the firm has also discussed its science with potential partners.