Allozyne’s Next Drug, Made to Kill Two Birds With One Stone, Being Prepped for Clinic

Xconomy Seattle — 

Allozyne, the Seattle-based developer of targeted therapies, is announcing today that its experimental antibody drug that hits not just one, but two targets on inflammatory cells, passed a pair of animal tests that will pave the way for clinical trials.

That’s not normally much in the way of news, but it signals a shift of emphasis at Allozyne. The drug, AZ17, is what’s known as a “bi-specific” antibody that zeroes in on two inflammatory proteins on cells with a marker called Th17. No drug like this is approved for sale in the U.S. by the FDA, but many big biotech and pharmaceutical companies are intrigued by the idea of such bi-specific antibodies against complex diseases like inflammation, in which it is thought to be an advantage to block more than one type of protein target.

Allozyne isn’t saying much in today’s statement about the AZ17 studies to date. But CEO Meenu Chhabra says the company plans to present the data at a scientific meeting and in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2011, and will aim to start clinical trials in late 2011 or early 2012. This drug candidate is coming along behind AZ01, which Allozyne has developed for multiple sclerosis. Allozyne, Chhabra says, plans to release its initial clinical trial data on that product candidate before the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in January, the biggest meeting of the year for biotech dealmakers. While that drug is further along in development, potential partners appear to be just as interested in AZ17, the company’s second candidate, Chhabra says.

“It looks like [AZ17] will carry as much if not greater commercial potential than AZ01,” Chhabra says in an e-mail. “Bi-specifics that are safe and effective are the holy grail for Big Pharma.”

The target Allozyne is pursuing, Th17, is a hot one that others are chasing as well with different types of treatments. Plymouth, MI-based Lycera, for one, is seeking to develop oral pills that block the target.

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