Herantis Pharma Plc
Drug development in unmet clinical needs in regenerative medicine
Herantis Pharma Plc is a public drug development company based in Finland. The company’s strategy is to work in close collaboration with the best universities in its field, find new preclinical assets supported by strong science, and advance their development to a clinical proof-of-concept. Herantis secures its assets with a broad IPR portfolio. Partnering or out-licensing will be considered for late stage development and commercial rollout.
CDNF: Neural regeneration in Parkinson’s and ALS
Herantis’ CDNF, illustrated below, is a protein first published in Nature and shown efficacious in several preclinical models of Parkinson’s disease where CDNF has both protected and regenerated dopaminergic cells. Unpublished non-human primate data suggest that CDNF has the potential to address two major unmet clinical needs of Parkinson’s disease: Disease modification and improvement in non-motor symptoms, in addition to motor symptoms of the disease. Unlike many previously tested compounds of similar nature, CDNF has also shown good diffusion in brain tissue, which is believed to increase its chances of success in the clinic.
Herantis aims to start first-in-human clinical studies in Parkinson’s disease in 2015. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease with estimated 7 million patients worldwide and a 3 BUSD drug market.
Herantis is also considering CDNF development in ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). In the first studies a single CDNF dose has improved survival in a preclinical ALS model. ALS is an aggressive motor neuron disease with a median survival of about three years from diagnosis; no effective treatments are known.
Lymfactin: Lymphatic regeneration in lymphedema
Approximately 20% of breast cancer patients who undergo axillary lymph node dissection develop secondary lymphedema, a progressive swelling of upper limbs – a disabling and disfiguring condition that severely affects quality of life. Herantis’ Lymfactin is an adenoviral gene therapy delivering the vascular growth factor VEGF-C to the affected area aiming to regenerate lymphatic vasculature, to cure the root cause of the disease that presently has poor and limited treatment options.
Preclinical pharmacology studies in lymphedema models have confirmed the effects of Lymfactin on the growth of new lymphatic vessels and functional improvement of lymphatic flow. Preclinical safety is also established and Herantis aims to start first-in-human clinical studies in patients with secondary lymphedema in 2015.
CDNF: Memory improvement in Alzheimer’s?
The most recent finding on Herantis’ CDNF suggests treatment potential in Alzheimer’s disease. A recent article published in Volume 291 of Behavioural Brain Research showed that CDNF improved long-term memory in mice suffering from Alzheimer’s disease-like brain pathology and even in healthy mice. Herantis is assessing possibilities of developing CDNF also in Alzheimer’s disease.