Opsona Therapeutics - At the forefront of immunology
Opsona was established in 2004, and cofounded by Professor Luke O’Neill at Trinity College Dublin, where he still leads the Inflammation Research Group. The company’s drug discovery and development today is focused on the role of Toll-Like Receptors (TLRs) and Inflammasome signalling in human immunology. Toll-Like Receptors (TLR) are key structures of the immune system and play a key role in inducing and propagating inflammation. The Irish company has developed a first and potential best in class antibody at its research locations in Dublin explains Mary Reilly, VP Pharmaceutical Development and Operations at Opsona.
Opsona are currently focused on developing their lead asset OPN-305 to treat and prevent autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as oncology. Their work revolves around OPN-305, a proprietary antibody developed by Opsona which has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of TLR2- mediated inflammatory responses. The company is financially supported by a key consortium of investors and part funded through the European Commission’s Mabsot consortium to develop OPN-305 for use in the prevention of delayed graft function (DGF) in kidney transplantation.
DGF essentially means that allograft function is not immediate. It is a serious complication following organ transplantation. In the case of renal transplantation, DGF is defined as the need for dialysis within seven days of transplantation. Dialysis within this seven day post-operative period significantly increases the chances of transplant failure. The incidence of DGF rises the longer the blood supply has been cut off, known as ischaemia reperfusion (I/R) injury, and is therefore a particular issue with transplants from deceased donors.
There is currently no specific treatment for DGF. Proteins known as Toll-Like Receptors (TLRs) recognise and accept infectious microbes, but the OPN-305 antibody binds itself to these TLRs and effectively switches off the signals that provoke inflammation. OPN-305 basically is an antagonist to TLR-2, a protein that plays a role in the immune system, as Ms. Reilly explains, in that they recognise foreign pathogens and eliminate them.
Ms. Reilly points out that while there is a large gap between the numbers of registered donors compared to those awaiting organ donations on a global level, the US has a particularly large waiting list. Opsona’s drug could alleviate this burden as it helps prevent DGF and turn currently non transplantable organs into functioning kidneys which in turn could get more donor organs accepted as suitable for transplant.
OPN-305 patent was recently published in Europe and in the US, an important step for Opsona as Ms. Reilly confirms. “This is an exciting time for us now that we’ve gone from start -up to clinical phase II in transplantation and phase I/II in Oncology. We look forward to further progressing through Clinical development and changing lives for patients.”
Opsona aims to continue to form appropriate partnerships with leading international pharmaceutical companies, having previously partnered with CSL, MSD and Pfizer.