CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apic Bio, Inc., a pre-clinical stage gene therapy company leveraging its proprietary platform to advance therapies to treat rare diseases with complex mechanisms, in particular Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (Alpha 1), launched today with an initial investment led by the venture philanthropy arm of the Alpha-1 Foundation and a private investor with the disease.
Its lead product, APB-101, targets the liver via an AAV delivered Dual Function Vector (df-AAV) whereby the Z-AAT protein is silenced and M-AAT protein is augmented. APB-101 has achieved a pre-clinical proof of concept with efficacy demonstrated in vitro and in vivo. It is currently undergoing pre-clinical GLP toxicology studies in non-human primates. Patients living with Alpha 1 lack sufficient levels of circulating AAT protein to protect lung tissue against damage from proteases, and experience the accumulation of mutant AAT polymers in the liver. Clinically, the deficiency is manifested by progressive emphysema and the accumulation presents a significant risk of liver cirrhosis.
John Reilly, Co-Founder & President said: “We are grateful to TAP and A1AT Investors, LLC who have supported the successful start of Apic Bio by providing the first tranche of our seed financing round allowing us to secure key intellectual property rights and operational support. With such strong support from the advocacy and patient community, we are confident that we will identify the right corporate partners to help us achieve our business development goals and bring this exciting new therapy to patients.”
The df-AAV platform allows treatment of other diseases with complex mechanisms where the mutant gene product must be reduced and the normal gene product must be augmented.
Dr. Chris Mueller, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Apic Bio said: “We are encouraged by the feedback that we have received during our pre-IND meeting with the FDA that there is a clear path for us to conduct a first-in-human Phase 1/2 clinical study. Furthermore, we are very much looking forward to demonstrating the benefit of APB-101 to patients that have been living with alpha-1 and have had very little hope for a cure. Our data suggests this is a ‘liver sparing’ approach for gene augmentation which may exceed the therapeutic and safety margins when compared to a strict gene augmentation without gene silencing that may exacerbate the underlying liver disease.”
“TAP is very pleased to provide this funding to Apic Bio. Their cutting-edge work on a therapy that addresses both the liver and lung disease brings us closer to finding a cure for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, thus fulfilling our mission,” said Jean-Marc Quach, CEO for The Alpha-1 Project.
“Today’s launch of Apic Bio has been a long time coming for the hundreds of thousands of people who are challenged by Alpha 1,” said Ed Krapels, who has been living with Alpha 1 and is the new company’s first individual investor. “Now that we are moving forward, we hope to work with patients, their advocates and researchers to make a cure readily available.” Krapels added.
About Apic Bio: Apic Bio, Inc. is a spin-off from the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and is based upon nearly 30 years of gene therapy research by its scientific founders Christian Mueller, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics and a member of the Horae Gene Therapy Center at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor in Medical Education, dean of the School of Medicine and provost and executive deputy chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Medical School; and colleagues at the Horae Gene Therapy Center. Their research is funded in part by an $11M grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).