At the heart of the collaboration will be a joint treatment discovery team.
Omdana develops treatments for PH, whose hallmark is high blood pressure in the lung’s blood vessels and arteries, and therapies for heart failure.
Its drugs target the Relaxin signaling pathway that is involved in tissue and vascular remodeling. The vascular system consists of the blood vessels that circulate blood through the body. Realignment of that system, or remodeling, causes many PH-related problems.
“Omdana is venturing into this program because therapies are needed that can truly address underlying tissue and vascular remodeling,” Dr. Christopher L. VanDeusen, Omdana’s president, said in a press release. “Icagen represents an ideal partner for moving from target to lead in a timely manner. Icagen’s scientific team and their breadth of experience and capabilities are second to none.”
Icagen has a history of teaming up with pharmaceutical and biotech companies to develop therapies based on promising new treatment approaches. The company’s scientists have broad experience in developing target-based drugs. As the name implies, they focus on specific molecular components involved in disease processes, such as ion channels, kinases, G protein-coupled receptors, and transporters.
The Icagen team first determines if targeting a molecular component would be a good way to treat a disease. Then they use virtual screening, ultra-high throughput screening, biological processes and medicinal chemistry to develop therapies that can target the component.
“Icagen is pleased to partner with Omdana Therapeutics on this important project,” said Richie Cunningham, president and chief executive officer of Icagen. “The Omdana co-founders also bring years of pharma experience and know-how for making successful drug candidates. Together we believe that we can make a nimble team of drug discoverers ready to advance compounds at a pace that we expect will beat the industry average.”
Tissue and vascular remodeling contribute to all forms of PH. Blood vessel realignment leads to stiffening of pulmonary arteries, thickening of muscle arteries, and development of vaso-occlusive lesions that can block blood vessels.
Vascular changes make it difficult for the heart to pump blood to the lungs. The damaged vessels resist blood flow, leading to a rise in blood pressure.
This forces the heart to work harder until the right ventricle eventually becomes enlarged and weak, ultimately leading to heart failure — the most common cause of death in PH.