SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Maze Therapeutics, a company translating genetic insights into new precision medicines, today revealed its first three lead therapeutic candidates in the company’s wholly owned pipeline. The candidates include:
- An oral therapy targeting GYS1 for the treatment of Pompe disease
- An oral therapy targeting APOL1 for the treatment of chronic kidney disease (CKD)
- A gene therapy targeting ATXN2 for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Each of the three lead candidates was enabled by Maze’s COMPASS platform, which uncovered important new findings for the genetic target, discerning which specific signals may be critical for the treatment of patients, and which are likely non-actionable. The Maze pipeline will have the potential to serve as precision medicines for rare diseases and mechanistically defined subsets of common diseases based on certain genetic drivers.
In addition, Maze is concurrently leveraging COMPASS to advance additional discovery-stage research programs across three main therapeutic areas of focus: metabolic, cardio/renal and neurological diseases. These programs will constitute a broad, diverse pipeline for Maze and will be a combination of wholly owned and partnership-led collaborations.
“Maze was built by co-founders, including Charles Homcy and other preeminent thinkers in the field of genetics, on a bold vision – to leverage growing knowledge of genetic drivers of disease in order to create precision medicines for the treatment of both rare and more common diseases,” said Jason Coloma, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Maze. “Since our founding, we have been leveraging insights from leading geneticists, combined with the growing availability of paired human genetic and clinical data, the evolution of functional genomic technologies and advances in computational power, to build our COMPASS platform in order to bring unique insights into efficient, genetics-based drug development. We are excited by the significant progress we have made with our platform and pipeline, bringing us an important step closer to our goal of delivering the right drug to the right patient at the right time.”
Maze’s therapeutic candidates are designed to: 1) target genes whose activity affects the phenotype associated with another, often distant, gene, referred to as genetic modifiers; 2) mimic the activity of protective genetic variants; 3) correct the effects of toxic genetic variants; or 4) leverage new genetic insights to address otherwise challenging drug targets.
COMPASS is a proprietary, purpose-built platform that combines human genetic data, functional genomic tools and data science technology to map novel connections between known genes and their influence on susceptibility, timing of onset and rate of disease progression. In addition, Maze is exploring applications of COMPASS in diseases of haploinsufficiency by identifying genetic mechanisms that increase levels of a deficient protein and translating them into therapeutics.
“New findings using COMPASS helped fill in fundamental data gaps, turning known but challenging targets into exciting, differentiated approaches to the genetic drivers of disease for our first three programs,” said Sarah Noonberg, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer of Maze. “While it has been shown that targets with human genetic evidence are more likely to yield efficacious treatments, very few groups have had the capabilities to then turn genetic insights into viable drug programs. We believe our COMPASS platform, integrated with our extensive drug discovery capabilities, will allow us to accelerate the pace of therapeutic development, as well as increase the likelihood of producing therapies that provide meaningful clinical benefit for patients. We are excited to advance these initial programs and look forward to continued progress toward the clinic as efficiently as possible.”
About Maze’s Wholly Owned Programs
GYS1 Program for Pompe Disease
Pompe disease is a rare, inherited autosomal recessive disorder with an incidence of approximately 1 in 40,000 live births in the U.S., and is estimated to affect 5,000 to 10,000 patients worldwide. It is caused by mutations in the GAA gene, which codes for an enzyme responsible for breaking down lysosomal glycogen into glucose. As a result of this mutation, glycogen accumulates in various tissues, particularly skeletal and cardiac muscle tissues, causing progressive weakness and respiratory insufficiency.
Maze is developing a novel, oral approach to treating Pompe disease by inhibiting the protein muscle glycogen synthase, which is encoded by the gene GYS1. Targeting this protein leads to reduction in the synthesis of glycogen, which is expected to restore glycogen balance through a mechanism called substrate reduction. While GYS1 has been a therapeutic target of interest, its attractiveness as a therapeutic target has been limited due to its structural complexity and uncertainties related to the tolerability of a long-term reduction in muscle glycogen levels. Critical insights derived from COMPASS have enabled Maze to overcome these challenges. Maze has interrogated the structurally complex protein to develop an oral inhibitor of muscle glycogen synthase, a target not previously addressable by small molecule therapies. Maze is rapidly progressing its GYS1 program toward an Investigational New Drug application and expects to initiate clinical trials in the first half of 2022.
APOL1 Program for Chronic Kidney Disease
CKD affects approximately 37 million people in the U.S., including more than 700,000 patients who suffer from end-stage renal disease (ESRD), many of whom require chronic dialysis. Individuals of African ancestry are at an approximately 3.5-fold greater risk of developing ESRD than individuals of European ancestry. Previous studies have shown that two coding variants of the apolipoprotein L1 (APOL1) encoded by the gene APOL1 cause toxic gain-of-function variants and are important genetic drivers of kidney disease that are responsible for much of the increased risk for CKD and ESRD in individuals of African ancestry. There are currently no approved therapies that address the underlying causes of APOL1-associated CKD, and efficacious treatment options for individuals with APOL1 risk variants and CKD represent a significant unmet medical need.
Maze employed COMPASS to functionalize human genetic variants to uncover the underlying biology of the target and has designed a small molecule that corrects the effects of toxic gain-of-function variants to potentially enable a therapeutic solution. Maze plans to name the development candidate in early 2022.
ATXN2 Program for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
ALS is a progressive and fatal neurodegenerative disease with a prevalence of approximately 16,000 patients in the U.S. Current available treatments for ALS primarily focus on providing symptomatic relief and have limited impact on disease progression. A high variability in disease phenotype and life expectancy is observed and believed to be related to the presence of genetic modifiers.
One of Maze’s founders, Aaron Gitler, identified a potent genetic modifier, ATXN2, whose inhibition has been shown to limit the toxicity of a certain protein, TDP-43, which is involved in pathologic aggregates seen in up to 97% of all ALS cases. Maze is translating these important insights by developing a novel microRNA gene therapy that targets ATXN2 and has used the proprietary application of its functional genomics tools to optimize its properties. Maze plans to name the development candidate in early 2022.
About Maze Therapeutics
Maze Therapeutics is focused on translating genetic insights into new precision medicines for rare diseases and mechanistically defined subsets of common diseases. Maze has developed the COMPASS platform, a proprietary, purpose-built platform that combines human genetic data, functional genomic tools and data science technology to map novel connections between known genes and their influence on susceptibility, timing of onset and rate of disease progression. Using COMPASS, Maze is building a broad portfolio, including wholly owned programs targeting Pompe disease, chronic kidney disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as partnered programs in cardiovascular and ophthalmic diseases. Maze is based in South San Francisco. For more information, please visit mazetx.com, or follow us on LinkedIn.