Galapagos receives €2.9 million Flemish government grant for cystic fibrosis research

Galapagos NV has been awarded a €2.9 million (approx. $3.8 million) grant from the Flemish agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) for cystic fibrosis (CF) research. The goal of this three-year project is to identify and progress multiple promising CF therapies towards pre-clinical candidates.

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MECHELEN, Belgium—Galapagos NV has been awarded a €2.9 million (approx. $3.8 million) grant from the Flemish agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) for cystic fibrosis (CF) research. The goal of this three-year project is to identify and progress multiple promising CF therapies towards pre-clinical candidates.
 
The program aims to progress correctors into pre-clinical development and gain better insight into the mode of action of Galapagos' potentiator and corrector molecules, thereby understanding better their therapeutic value. New therapies in development for the main mutation, F508del affecting 70 percent of CF patients, involve combining two drugs: a corrector to restore the mutation plus a potentiator to allow efficient opening of the CF channel.
 
Galapagos recently announced the selection of a pre-clinical candidate potentiator  GLPG1837, the first part of the combination therapy needed to address the needs of most CF patients. This IWT grant will fund research toward finding correctors, which are needed in combination with GLPG1837. Galapagos will collaborate in this project with Professor Dr. Christiane De Boeck from the Catholic University of Leuven, and the research group of Professor Dr. Ineke Braakman at Utrecht University.

"We are very pleased with the enthusiastic support from the IWT for our innovative research in cystic fibrosis," said Dr. Piet Wigerinck, chief scientific officer of Galapagos. "Today's grant will add more tools to our exciting new approach in finding correctors."

Galapagos initiated its research in CF in 2005 as part of a collaboration with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In September 2013 Galapagos signed an agreement with AbbVie in which they will work collaboratively to develop and commercialize oral drugs that address the main mutations in CF patients, including F508del and G551D. In December 2013, Galapagos selected GLPG1837 as a pre-clinical candidate and expects to start the first clinical trial before the end of 2014. A corrector pre-clinical candidate is expected to be nominated, also before the end of 2014, with clinical trials starting at year-end 2015.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disease of the entire body which leads to severe disability and early death in many cases. Symptoms include frequent lung infections, sinus infections, poor growth, and diarrhea. The cause is a defect in a gene which encodes for cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR), a protein which regulates components of sweat, mucus, and digestive juices. CF affects approximately 70,000 people worldwide. Patient symptoms are treated with antibiotics and other medicines. There currently is no cure for the disease, and the predicted median age of survival is in the late 30s.

The agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) is the government agency founded in 1991 by the Flemish Government to support technological innovation projects in Flanders. Each year IWT distributes about €300 million (approx. $411 million) in subsidies for innovation projects to companies, organizations, research and educational institutions in Flanders. In addition to financial support, IWT also assists companies by, for instance, helping them find the right information or the right partners at home or abroad, providing assistance with the preparation of projects for European programs and with technology transfer throughout Europe. IWT also has an important coordination mandate aimed at promoting close cooperation among all the actors involved in technological innovation in Flanders.

Galapagos specializes in novel modes-of-action, with a large pipeline comprising of six Phase 2 studies (three led by GSK), one Phase 1 study, six pre-clinical, and 20 discovery small-molecule and antibody programs in cystic fibrosis, inflammation, antibiotics, metabolic disease, and other indications.

AbbVie and Galapagos signed an agreement in CF where they work collaboratively to develop and commercialize oral drugs that address two mutations in the CFTR gene, the G551D and F508del mutation. Potentiator GLPG1837 is at the pre-clinical candidate stage. In the field of inflammation, AbbVie and Galapagos signed a worldwide license agreement whereby AbbVie will be responsible for further development and commercialization of GLPG0634 after Phase 2B. GLPG0634 is an orally available, selective inhibitor of JAK1 for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and potentially other inflammatory diseases, currently in Phase 2B studies in RA and about to enter Phase 2 studies in Crohn's disease. Galapagos has another selective JAK1 inhibitor in Phase 2 in ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and lupus, GSK2586184 (formerly GLPG0778, in-licensed by GlaxoSmithKline in 2012). GLPG0974 is the first inhibitor of FFA2 to be evaluated clinically for the treatment of IBD; this program is currently in a Proof-of-Concept Phase 2 study. GLPG1205 is a first-in-class molecule that targets inflammatory disorders and has completed Phase 1 studies.

The Galapagos Group, including fee-for-service companies BioFocus,
Argenta and Fidelta, has approximately 800 employees and operates facilities
in five countries, with global headquarters in Mechelen, Belgium.
 
 


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