The new entity, which will also involve the Catholic University Leuven (KULeuven), Ghent University (UGent), Dutch company Therosteon and a group of investors will focus on drug discovery and preclinical development, with a focus on bone and cartilage diseases.
“Our unique approach is to develop new disease modifying therapeutics for diseases with high unmet medical need, based on true understanding of the underlying biology,” said Tolleiv Trimborn, CEO of Arcarios.
“The close involvement of the leading academic centres in Belgium and the Netherlands will ensure the rapid development of our lead molecules to a proof-of-concept stage in humans,” he added.
Arcarios’ core technology offering is the ‘ChondroBOOST’ high-content, cell based screening platform which assesses the effect of small molecules and biologics on various aspects of cartilage biology using human joint chondrocytes and stem cells
Intelligent biological screening
The platform enables intelligent biological screening and identification of therapeutic compounds, which could potentially help slow or prevent joint diseases such as osteoarthritis.
Furthermore, with assistance from KULeuven and UGent, Tigenix has already identified a group of potential osteoarthritis targets and drug development candidates.
Kris Motmans of TiGenix revealed to Outsourcing-Pharma that Dutch drug discovery company, Therosteon, has developed ‘Osteoblast,’ another, “similar platform focussing on bone metabolism” which will be housed in the Arcarios laboratory. “Both platforms are directed towards the identification of small molecules that have an effect on cartilage or bone diseases,” he added.
TiGenix’s believes partnering will “maximise leverage [of] its small molecule drug discovery assets without deviating from its core cell therapy focus.”
Though the Belgium-based company’s exact stake remains undisclosed, TiGenix have confirmed they will be the largest shareholder of Arcarios, whose R&D facilities are due to be set up in Diepenbeek, Belgium.
As a consequence “TiGenix retains the rights to license all compounds resulting from Arcarios’ research that can be used in vitro or for local treatment of arthritic joint diseases,” said Motmans, adding: “We expect Arcarios to bring a number of drug candidates to proof of concept stage (Phase IIa), and to partner with large pharma.”