November 11, 2020
Targeted therapies developed to reduce lung fibrosis
People with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) have a life expectancy of less than five years. Fibrotic diseases cause organ failure that lead to about 45% of all deaths in the United States. Existing therapies do little to slow progression.
Now, Philip S. Low, Purdue’s Ralph C. Corley Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Presidential Scholar for Drug Discovery, has led a team to develop two targeted therapies for people with IPF. The two different therapeutic approaches are published in Science Translational Medicine and EMBO Molecular Medicine.
“This is a horrible disease that claimed the lives of my next-door neighbor and a good friend’s wife,” Low said. “We developed two targeted therapies that allow us to use powerful drugs with high toxicities because we specifically deliver them to diseased cells without harming healthy ones.”
The first of the Purdue team’s novel targeted molecules is designed to slow fibrosis and extend life. The second IPF therapy suppresses fibrosis-inducing cytokine production.
The two therapies will be moving into human clinical trials within the next several months. The developments come as a number of people with COVID-19 or who have recovered from COVID-19 experience lung fibrosis or other related conditions.
The therapy technologies are licensed through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization and optioned to MorphImmune, a startup co-founded by Low. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at email@example.com.
About Purdue Research Foundation
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Targeted inhibition of PI3 kinase/mTOR specifically in fibrotic lung fibroblasts suppresses pulmonary fibrosis in experimental models
Suraj U. Hettiarachchi, Yen-Hsing Li, Jyoti Roy, Fenghua Zhang, Estela Puchulu-Campanella, Spencer D. Lindeman, Madduri Srinivasarao, Konstantin Tsoyi, Xiaoliang Liang, Ehab A. Ayaub, Cheryl Nickerson-Nutter, Ivan O. Rosas and Philip S. Low
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a lethal disease with an average life expectancy of 3 to 5 years. IPF is characterized by progressive stiffening of the lung parenchyma due to excessive deposition of collagen, leading to gradual failure of gas exchange. Although two therapeutic agents have been approved from the FDA for IPF, they only slow disease progression with little impact on outcome. To develop a more effective therapy, we have exploited the fact that collagen-producing myofibroblasts express a membrane-spanning protein, fibroblast activation protein (FAP), that exhibits limited if any expression on other cell types. Because collagen-producing myofibroblasts are only found in fibrotic tissues, solid tumors, and healing wounds, FAP constitutes an excellent marker for targeted delivery of drugs to tissues undergoing pathologic fibrosis. We demonstrate here that a low–molecular weight FAP ligand can be used to deliver imaging and therapeutic agents selectively to FAP-expressing cells. Because induction of collagen synthesis is associated with phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) activation, we designed a FAP-targeted PI3K inhibitor that selectively targets FAP-expressing human IPF lung fibroblasts and potently inhibited collagen synthesis. Moreover, we showed that administration of the inhibitor in a mouse model of IPF inhibited PI3K activation in fibrotic lungs, suppressed production of hydroxyproline (major building block of collagen), reduced collagen deposition, and increased mouse survival. Collectively, these studies suggest that a FAP-targeted PI3K inhibitor might be promising for treating IPF.