Who and what is POLYNEURON?
Polyneuron is an early stage Swiss pharmaceutical company founded in 2014 that is committed to the development of a new drug class for the treatment of autoimmune disorders. The company’s technology platform Antibody-Catch® enables the design of drugs that selectively inactivate disease-causing autoantibodies, while leaving the immune system intact.
This pioneering therapeutic approach holds great potential for effective and safe treatments for antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases. These devastating diseases, such as anti-MAG neuropathy or multifocal motor neuropathy, represent an unmet medical need, as current drugs unselectively suppress the whole immune system, leading to serious therapy side effects and frequently resulting in a worsening of the patients’ physical condition. Polyneuron strives to make Antibody-Catch® a clinical reality and hopes to make a difference in the lives of people suffering from autoimmune diseases.
Paradigm shifts in autoimmune diseases
The Antibody-Catch® platform technology enables the development of a class of drugs for highly specific interception of autoimmune disease antibodies. We are currently focusing on autoimmune diseases of the peripheral nervous system that involve autoantibodies against carbohydrate epitopes.
How does “Antibody-Catch®” work?
Antibody-Catch® is a platform technology developed by Polyneuron for the treatment of antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases. It facilitates the rational design of drugs that bind and block disease-causing autoantibodies. The platform-derived drugs are biodegradable high-molecular weight glycopolymers that offer multiple epitope-mimics to the autoantibodies. As a result, the drug serves as a decoy for the autoantibody, which gets sequestered and eliminated from the body. This highly specific treatment approach is fundamentally new and could potentially enable treatment options for previously incurable diseases.
Polyneuron currently focuses on autoimmune diseases which involve autoantibodies against carbohydrate epitopes.
The drugs that are derived from the Antibody-Catch® platform hold great potential for a specific and especially safe immunotherapy. This is achieved by designing glycopolymer drugs, which are of low immunogenicity due to their carbohydrate nature. Polyneuron has extensive know-how in carbohydrate-based drug discovery and currently focuses to employ the Antibody-Catch® technology for autoimmune diseases which involve autoantibodies against carbohydrate epitopes.
Multifocal Motor neuropathy
Effective and selective
PN-1007 for the treatment of anti-MAG neuropathy
PN-1007 has been designed to target the IgM autoantibodies that cause anti-MAG neuropathy. It mimics the natural HNK-1 epitope and binds to the disease-causing antibodies with very strong nanomolar binding affinity in vitro. Antibody binding to the natural HNK-1 epitope on MAG is thus prevented with high efficiency. Therefore, PN-1007 may protect myelin sheaths in vivo by blocking the pathogenic antibodies. Treatment with PN-1007 would be the first antigen-specific therapy for anti-MAG neuropathy and therefore can be expected to be much more effective and selective in its mode of action compared to current unspecific immunosuppressive treatments for the disease.
Preventing binding events
PN-1018 for treatment of multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN)
PN-1018 is going to be developed for the treatment of multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN). The development strategy for PN-1018 involves the synthesis of a drug that mimics the epitope on GM1, which is recognized and bound by IgM autoantibodies in MMN patients. PN-1018 has the potential to prevent these binding events and thus, may preserve the nerves and lead to a relief in symptoms.
Getting things done
Ruben is a co-founder of Polyneuron. He is the co-inventor of the prototype anti‐MAG neuropathy drug and an expert on the underlying core technology Antibody-Catch. Since 2013, Ruben’s efforts for Polyneuron have been recognized with several start-up prizes, including the Neurex Support to Start-up , >>venture>> 2014, and the venture kick awards. Ruben is an industrial pharmacist by training who is an expert in the evaluation of novel therapeutic approaches for neuromuscular diseases. He has drug discovery experience including chemical synthesis, assay development, compound screening and profiling, and in vivo pharmacology.
Pascal studied Pharmaceutical Sciences and obtained a PhD in integrative molecular medicine at the University Children's Hospital Zurich and the Veterinary Physiology department, University of Zurich. During his interdisciplinary PhD project, he elucidated the molecular basis for a novel therapy to treat sickle cell anemia that will soon be evaluated in clinical trials. He has a solid background in molecular biology, cell biology, electrophysiology, drug target validation, and working in a clinical environment. Pascal manages in-house R&D and collaborations with Contract Research Organizations (CROs) as Polyneuron’s CSO.
On the shoulders of giants
Scientific Advisory Board
Prof. Ernst is a co-founder of Polyneuron Parmaceuticals and currently heads the Institute of Molecular Pharmacy at the University of Basel. He is a renowned expert in the synthesis and pharmacological evaluation of carbohydrate-based drugs. Prof. Ernst has an extensive track record in drug discovery. Rivipansel (GMI-1070), a compound invented by Prof. Ernst in collaboration with GlycoMimetics, has demonstrated clinical proof-of-concept as a treatment for vaso-occlusive crises in patients with sickle cell anemia. Rivipansel was licensed by GlycoMimetics to Pfizer and entered Phase 3 under FDA Special Protocol Assessment in June, 2015. Furthermore, Prof. Ernst was substantially involved in development of the anti-MAG neuropathy drug and will be assisting and advising Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals regarding chemistry and drug development.
Prof. Steck is a co-founder of Polyneuron. Previously, he was head of the Neurology Clinic of the University Hospital Basel from 1993 to 2007. He is a highly respected medical expert in the field of neurological diseases, in particular in the area of immune-mediated neuropathies. He also held various prestigious positions such as President of the Swiss Neurological Society and President of the European Neurological Society. His neurology know-how and valuable clinical network, will be of great help to Polyneuron, especially with respect to clinical drug development.
Jochen Kinter is a senior researcher in the neuromuscular research group at the University Hospital of Basel. He is a biochemist/neurobiologist by training and has gained extensive know-how in the field of molecular mechanisms of neurological and neuromuscular diseases. He has worked in the area of immune-mediated neuropathies as well as multiple sclerosis and is supporting Polyneuron with his expertise.