The two Lund-based development companies Respiratorius and Iconovo have signed an agreement to develop an inhalation formulation and an inhalation product of Respiratorius drug candidate RES030-085 for the treatment of COPD and severe asthma. A first inhalation product based on Iconovo’s ICOone is intended to be used in a phase I clinical trial with the candidate. BioStock has spoken to the respective CEOs of the two companies to find out more about what this means.
Iconovo develops complete inhalation products consisting of both inhalers and dry powder formulations, while Respiratorius develops drugs for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and cancer. The companies will now work together to develop an inhalation product for the treatment of COPD and asthma based on Respiratorius’s candidate RES030-085 and Iconovo’s inhaler ICOone. The agreement between the two companies has a total value of SEK 3 million, of which SEK 200,000 will be paid to Iconovo upon signing the agreement.
COPD – a rapidly growing disease
COPD is a collective name for lung diseases that chronically reduce air flow in the respiratory tract associated with inflammation of the lungs, which leads to breathing problems. It is one of the fastest growing diseases and is the third leading cause of death in the world today. The respiratory treatment market accounts for almost 10 per cent of all drug sales worldwide, representing a market of approximately USD 90 billion in 2020, of which medicines for COPD accounted for more than half of this amount.
RES030-085 has anti-inflammatory and bronchodilating properties
Within the project RESP9000, Respiratorius is developing the drug candidate RES030-085, which, in preclinical studies, has been shown to provide complete relaxation of small airways isolated from human lung tissue regardless of how these have been contracted. This, combined with anti-inflammatory properties, distinguishes the candidate from other medicines available today.
The project is currently in preclinical phase, where the toxicological programme has recently been initiated. Another important piece of the puzzle to lay before taking the candidate into the clinical phase is the formulation of the substance. And here an important step is now being taken with the agreement with Iconovo.
Dry powder formulation and inhaler for phase I trial
According to the agreement, Iconovo will develop a dry powder formulation of RES030-085, as well as developing an inhalation product based on ICOone, which is intended to be used in a phase I trial – a work that is estimated to take about nine months to complete. ICOone is a dry powder inhaler with a low manufacturing cost and a simple design that makes it easy to use.
Iconovo has developed a total of four inhalation platforms – ICOone, ICOres, ICOcap and ICOpre. Within the collaboration between Iconovo and Respiratorius, the companies will also investigate which of Iconovo’s inhalation platforms would be best suited for a possible market launch of the product. If the project succeeds in reaching the important milestone, licensing agreements between the two companies will be discussed.
Respiratorius and Iconovo comment on the agreement
For Respiratorius, an important piece is added to the preclinical puzzle, while for Iconovo it means that a third agreement has now been signed in the new strategic area for innovative inhalation projects.
BioStock has spoken to JohanWäborg, CEO of Iconovo, and Johan Drott, CEO of Respiratorius, to learn more about the agreement. First up is Johan Wäborg:
First of all, what are your expectations for the collaboration with Respiratorius?
– Our expectations are that we will be able to quickly implement this first phase with good results and then be able to deepen our cooperation. RES-030-085 has shown very promising and unique results and we feel that the product could help many patients who currently need improved treatment.
Why is the ICOone inhaler suitable for the phase I trial with Respiratorius drug candidate?
– ICOone is a simple disposable inhaler with very good performance. Almost no matter what substance we deliver with ICOone, we get a high lung dose. If a company wants to quickly enter clinical phase I trial with low risk and cost, ICOone is an excellent choice.
With the agreement with Respiratorius, you have already reached one of your business goals to enter into two new customer agreements in 2021. Is it time to reassess this goal?
– Two new customer agreements per year is a long-term goal that we set for the first time in 2021. We have now achieved this year’s goal, but we are not slowing down and are aiming for more agreements this year. We will see a variation over the years of between 1-3 deals. 2021 has started well in this regard.
Johan Drott also takes a very positive view of the agreement that has now been concluded.
We start by asking you the same question – what expectations do you have for the collaboration with Iconovo?
– Iconovo possesses the experience and expertise that Respratorius needs to ensure an optimal product for clinical studies. We also see that it is important that the development work takes place with access to the type of inhaler that Iconovo can offer.
When do you plan to start the phase I clinical trial with the drug candidate RES030-085, and what do you hope to show in the study?
– Phase I studies are primarily so-called safety studies; however, we also hope to be able to obtain some kind of preliminary data on the efficacy. The work on designing the study is not yet complete, but our thoughts are moving in that direction. We have a high pace in our work to be able to have approval as soon as possible to be able to start the study.
Why did you choose Iconovo as a development partner for the phase I clinical trial?
– Iconovo’s knowledge is exactly what we are looking for, and we know that they have products that are well suited.
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