Lipum’s drug development is based on the protein bile-salt stimulated lipase in the immune system. Recently, the journal PLOS ONE published a scientific article verifying BSSL as a promising target molecule for the treatment of chronic inflammation. BioStock contacted Lipum’s CSO Susanne Lindquist to learn more about the publication.
Lipum is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of a novel treatment for chronic inflammatory diseases. The company’s drug candidate SOL-116 is a human antibody that blocks the target molecule bile-salt stimulated lipase (BSSL), with the aim of developing a safe and effective treatment. Lipum is currently evaluating SOL-116 in a clinical phase I study that is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024.
BSSL – a multifunctional protein
The company’s development of SOL-116 is based on many years of research on BSSL. A research team at Umeå University discovered BSSL in breast milk, where it is playing a role in fat digestion. Later, the research team realised that the protein is also present in the blood and that it is involved in inflammatory processes.
Scientific article published
The researchers then conducted preclinical studies to investigate BSSL’s role in inflammation, specifically in inflammatory joint disorders. The study results have now been published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE in an article titled “Effects of bile salt-stimulated lipase on blood cells and associations with disease activity in human inflammatory joint disorders”.
The article is written by Lipum’s CSO Susanne Lindquist and other researchers at the company, together with the Departments of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Rheumatology and Clinical Science, Paediatrics, Umeå University.
The results confirm the potential
The article summarises the company’s early preclinical research showing BSSL’s pro-inflammatory role. In addition, the publication describes how BSSL can affect the recruitment of inflammatory cells to a site of inflammation.
Overall, the results confirm that BSSL is a promising target molecule for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. Lipum focuses primarily on the treatment of RA, but also evaluates other inflammatory diseases with a high unmet medical need.
Researchers at KI continue to explore BSSL’s role
Although the company has already carried out extensive preclinical work, there is still more to explore around BSSL and SOL-116, especially since the mode of action is not yet fully understood. Therefore, Lipum has recently entered into a two-year research collaboration with Karolinska Institutet to thoroughly explore BSSL’s role in the immune system, especially in RA, and to elucidate the mode of action of SOL-116.
CSO tells us more about BSSL
BioStock contacted Lipum’s CEO Susanne Lindquist to learn more about the possibilities with BSSL and SOL-116.
First of all, what inspired you to investigate the correlation between BSSL and inflammatory diseases?
– We first discovered that BSSL was found in inflammatory cells and that so-called knockout mice, which completely lack BSSL, are protected from developing arthritis in their joints. Initially, we were both surprised and excited by the findings, which led to further studies. In these studies, we showed that antibodies that bind to BSSL can inhibit the development of arthritis in mice and rats. One study has led to the next and today we have come so far that we have developed a human antibody against BSSL that is currently being tested in a clinical phase I safety study in humans.
What are the key findings in the study, now published in the journal PLOS ONE?
– The results show that the concentration of BSSL in the blood is higher in patients with inflammatory joint disease compared to healthy controls and that there is a clear relationship between BSSL levels and disease activity in the patients. In the article, we also describe how BSSL is secreted and stimulates inflammatory cells to move (migrate) by their own power towards an increased concentration of BSSL. In short, the results show that BSSL is secreted from granulocytes, binds to monocytes and stimulates these cells to migrate. Finally, the article shows how an antibody that blocks BSSL from binding to monocytes inhibits cell migration.
»In the article, we also describe how BSSL is secreted and stimulates inflammatory cells to move (migrate) by their own power towards an increased concentration of BSSL. «
How would you relate the results in the publication to the expected effect on humans?
– Our hypothesis is that elevated levels of BSSL stimulate the recruitment of inflammatory cells to a site of inflammation. In chronic inflammation, SOL-116 can block the function of BSSL and thereby slow down cell migration and stop the uncontrolled inflammation process.
You have also recently initiated a collaboration with Karolinska Institutet to continue evaluating BSSL’s role in inflammation. Why is this collaboration important?
– The aim of the project is to increase the understanding of mechanisms of action for BSSL and SOL-116. The research group at Karolinska Institutet, Division of Rheumatology, is led by Associate Professor Bence Réthi, who conducts research on etiology, molecular mechanisms, treatments and outcomes of various chronic rheumatic inflammatory diseases. The collaboration adds enormously important experience, knowledge and human resources to the project.
Finally, what is your main focus during the fall as CSO in Lipum?
– The main focus for me and the whole company is to complete the ongoing clinical study and plan for the next step. In parallel, our preclinical research is ongoing with studies on mechanisms of action and the importance of BSSL in other chronic inflammatory diseases, in addition to rheumatoid arthritis.
»The main focus for me and the whole company is to complete the ongoing clinical study and plan for the next step«
Read a previous interview with Susanne Lindquist here.The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.