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Protagonist Therapeutics Receives SBIR Funding for the Development of Injectable Hepcidin Mimetics for Treatment of Iron Overload Disorders

MILPITAS, Calif., July 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Protagonist Therapeutics, Inc. today announced receipt of a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from the National Institute of Heart and Lung Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. The award, Number HL132702-01A1, supports preclinical research aimed at discovering and optimizing lead molecules as novel peptide mimetics of the natural hepcidin hormone. Protagonist aims to develop these mimetics as potential injectable treatments for iron overload disorders, such as beta-thalassemia and hereditary hemochromatosis.

Protagonist's research has shown that hepcidin mimetics discovered using the company's peptide technology platform can lower serum iron when administered subcutaneously in animal studies. This award will help further the company's efforts to translate these preclinical proof-of-concept findings into a potential human therapeutic for patients characterized by anemia and organ iron overload.

"This new SBIR grant will support our efforts to use our technology platform to create novel peptide drugs," said David Y. Liu, Ph.D., Protagonist Chief Scientific Officer. "Through this award, the reviewers also recognize the considerable benefit which could be provided for the treatment of iron overload disorders through therapeutic targeting of the hepcidin-ferroportin pathway, which is the master regulator of iron homeostasis." 

"The NIH SBIR program plays a vital role in helping companies develop new technology and products that serve important U.S. health care needs," Dr. Liu concluded.

The content of this press release is solely the views of its authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About Protagonist Therapeutics

Protagonist Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company with a proprietary technology platform focused on discovering and developing peptide-based new chemical entities to address significant unmet medical needs. Its primary focus is on developing first-in-class oral peptide drugs that specifically target biological pathways also targeted by currently marketed injectable antibody drugs. Compared to injectable antibody drugs, Protagonist's oral peptides offer targeted delivery to the gastrointestinal (GI) tissue compartment, potential for improved safety due to minimal exposure in the blood, improved convenience and compliance due to oral delivery, and potentially an opportunity for earlier introduction of targeted therapy for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Protagonist's initial lead product candidates, PTG-100 and PTG-200, are based on this approach, and the company believes they have the potential to transform the existing treatment paradigm for IBD, a GI disease consisting primarily of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

PTG-100, a potential first-in-class oral alpha-4-beta-7 integrin specific antagonist peptide product candidate that is being developed initially for moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis, has now completed a phase 1 clinical trial in normal healthy volunteers.  PTG-200, a potential first-in-class oral Interleukin-23 receptor antagonist that is being developed initially for moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease, is currently in IND-enabling studies.

The company has a peptide technology platform that enables the discovery of oral and injectable peptides that can be utilized against a diverse set of targets and diseases including, but not confined to, GI targets and diseases. In addition to PTG-100 and PTG-200, the company is engaged in the discovery and development of injectable hepcidin mimetics, including one lead compound from this program, PTG-300, which is currently in pre-clinical development. These mimetics have potential utility for the treatment of iron overload disorders, such as transfusion dependent beta-thalassemia, hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) and sickle cell disease (SCD), each of which may qualify PTG-300 for orphan drug designation.  

Protagonist is headquartered in Milpitas, California with its pre-clinical and clinical staff in California, and discovery operations both in California and in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. For further information, please visit http://www.protagonist-inc.com.

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SOURCE Protagonist Therapeutics, Inc.