Artax announces first patient dosed in psoriasis treatment trial

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Psoriasis Autoimmune Autoimmune disease Dermatology Clinical trials Clinical research

Artax Biopharma, a clinical-stage biotech company focused on transforming the treatment of autoimmune diseases, has dosed the first patient in its phase 2a trial evaluating oral, small molecule, AX-158 for the treatment of psoriasis.

According to the National Instituye of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, psoriasis is a chronic, long-lasting disease in which the immune system becomes overactive, causing skin cells to multiply too quickly.

Patches of skin become scaly and inflamed, most often on the scalp, elbows, or knees, but other parts of the body can be affected as well.

It is thought the disease currently affects 125 million people globally, with an estimated 7.5 million adults in the US impacted by the condition.

“We are excited about AX-158’s potential as the first immunomodulator in the Nck blocker class. Our pre-clinical data supports the potential for AX-158 to realize effective outcomes without the immunosuppression and the side effects associated with existing autoimmune disease therapies, said Artax CEO Rob Armstrong.

Immunomodulation assists the immune system in maintaining healthy control, addressing the underlying driver of autoimmune diseases.

As the first in a new class of Nck blockers, AX-158 has the potential to establish a new standard of care in autoimmune disease treatment, Artax said.

By selectively targeting Nck function, which plays a critical role in immune system function, AX-158 recalibrates the body’s T-cell receptor (TCR) responses. 

According to the company, AX-158 has ‘broad potential’ to treat many autoimmune diseases without causing immunosuppression – as the therapy allows the immune system to only activate when it recognizes a true disease threat.

“The new Nck blocker class of agents, AX-158, has the potential to change how we treat autoimmune disease through targeting and tempering TCR responses so the body only, and properly, reacts against strong pathogens,” commented James Krueger, head of the laboratory for investigative dermatology at The Rockefeller University and Artax board member.

“I am excited to see how this new mechanism of action translates into biomarker changes and patient responses, where to date only targeted immunosuppression has been applied.”

The company said it is ‘eager’ to see positive validation for AX-158 when the trial results are available later this year.

The symptoms can sometimes go through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months followed by periods when they subside or go into remission. Mild psoriasis can often be successfully treated with creams or ointments, while moderate and severe psoriasis may currently require pills, injections, or light treatments. Managing common triggers, such as stress and skin injuries, can also help keep the symptoms under control.

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