New therapeutic and diagnostic method for the treatment of autoimmune-related cardiac insufficiency

GO-Bio 1 – PD Dr. med. Roland Jahns – Medical Clinic and Polyclinic I, University Hospital of Würzburg | corimmun GmbH

Peptide und Proteine in Herzform

Leonid Andronov - Fotolia


Recipient: Medical Clinic and Polyclinic I, University Hospital of Würzburg
Funding: GO-Bio Phase I (01.04.2007 - 30.09.2008, 970.397 Euro)

Recipient: Corimmun GmbH
Funding: GO-Bio Phase II (01.10.2008 - 31.03.2011, 3.428.002 Euro)


Summary

Cardiac insufficiency is not always a consequence of a heart attack or defective heart valve. In a large number of patients, severe cardiac insufficiency also traces back to a misdirected attack on the side of the immune system. Thereby, antibodies are directed against a specific receptor in the wall of heart muscle cells. This receptor normally ensures that the stress hormone adrenaline results in a faster and stronger pumping action in the heart. In affected patients, the erroneously produced receptor antibodies have a similar effect to adrenaline. Over time, this unnecessary overstimulation results in a progressive enlargement and functional impairment of the left ventricle.

In the animal model, Jahns and his working group have demonstrated that these harmful receptor antibodies can be neutralised by special cyclic compounds known as cyclopeptides, thereby suppressing the overstimulation caused by the receptor. When animals were prophylactically administered with these cyclopeptides, i.e. before the onset of the disease, the development of cardiac insufficiency was prevented. It was even possible to reverse a pre-existing cardiac insufficiency through a subsequent therapeutic application of cyclopeptides. The project funding will encompass the systematic characterisation of the patented cyclopeptides as a new method of treatment. They will also be optimised for clinical application towards the start of initial studies in heart failure patients with a dysfunctioning immune system. In addition, the cyclopeptides will play a central role in the development of a novel diagnostic method for the precise identification of cardiac insufficiency patients through the detection of harmful receptor antibodies in the blood. The patients could then be offered targeted treatment. In the medium term, the therapy and the diagnostic procedure will be central in the founding of a company that will carry both fields of application of cyclopeptides into everyday practice. This will be pursued in cooperation with other pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Progress during and after the funding period

The project of Würzburg University was transformed into a company named Corimmun GmbH. The lead molecule attracted the interest of major pharmaceutical companies. In 2012, Janssen-CILAG of Neuss took over the biotech for USD100 million. Co-founder Götz Münch invested part of the proceeds into the new company AdvanceCor which now continues many former Corimmun projects. In January 2020, AdvanceCor announced the completion and positive results of its first phase-II clinical trial of Revacept (click here for News). In May 2020, the company announced the closing of a financing round of 3.9 million Euro. This financing will be used to evaluate data from two clinical trials.