AsianScientist (Nov. 18, 2019) – ASLAN Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage oncology and immunology focused biopharma company, has established a joint venture with Korean pharmaceutical company Bukwang Pharmaceutical to develop preclinical aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) antagonists.
AhR is a druggable protein that acts as a master regulator of the immune system. When kynurenine, a molecule produced in the tumor microenvironment, binds to AhR on a group of immune cells known as T-cells, the anti-tumor activity of T-cells is suppressed. Hence, by targeting AhR, scientists hope to prevent the suppression of T-cell activity, which in turn allows for stronger immune responses that destroy tumors.
Under the terms of the agreement, ASLAN will transfer the global rights to all of the assets related to AhR technology into the joint venture, manifested as the independent company JAGUAHR Therapeutics and based in Singapore. Bukwang will invest US$5 million in JAGUAHR in two tranches to fund the development of the assets, identify a lead development compound and file an investigational new drug application.
“The launch of JAGUAHR Therapeutics is an important step by ASLAN to realize the value of our early stage assets and advance the development of our AhR antagonist technology at a time when focus is shifting towards AhR antagonists as a hot new area in immune-oncology,” said Dr. Carl Firth, CEO of ASLAN Pharmaceuticals.
“Bukwang has a strong track record of achievement in the pharma business, and creating this spinout together allows both companies to quickly progress these exciting compounds and potentially provide novel clinical assets to enrich the ASLAN pipeline. We look forward to working with the Bukwang team as we focus on identifying JAGUAHR’s first drug candidate,” he added.
Source: Aslan Pharmaceuticals; Photo: Shutterstock.
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