Who and what is POLYNEURON?
Polyneuron is pioneering a novel therapeutic approach for the effective and safe treatment of antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases of the nervous system where a pathological role of anti-carbohydrate autoantibodies is well established. Polyneuron’s platform focus in on rare but devastating autoimmune diseases of the nervous system with an unmet medical need.
The company’s Antibody-Catch™ technology platform enables the chemical design of injectable glycopolymers that are able to selectively eliminate the pathological autoantibodies, while leaving the rest of the immune system intact. Polyneuron was founded as a University of Basel, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, spin-off in 2014.
With funding of about CHF 27 million to date, Polyneuron has delivered preclinical proof of principle with its lead compound PN-1007 for the treatment of anti-MAG neuropathy and obtained the orphan drug designation from the European Medicines Agency. In addition, foundations for a promising pipeline have been laid – the Antibody-Catch™ technology platform has wide-ranging applicability and can be used to target carbohydrate-binding proteins in the broadest sense. Polyneuron’s mission is to make Antibody-Catch™ a clinical reality, with the hope to make a difference in the lives of people suffering from devastating diseases.
Paradigm shifts in autoimmune diseases
The Antibody-Catch™ platform technology enables the development of biodegradable and injectable glycopolymers 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.
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Polyneuron Pharmaceuticals AG
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.
Safety & Manufacturing
Multifocal motor neuropathy
ABO-incompatible organ & stem cell transplantation
PN-032 & PN-056
PN-1007 for the treatment of anti-MAG neuropathy
PN-1007 was designed to target the IgM autoantibodies that cause anti-MAG neuropathy. It mimics the natural HNK-1 carbohydrate epitope and strongly binds to the disease-causing antibodies in vitro. Thus, it blocks autoantibody-binding to the natural HNK-1 epitope on MAG at very low concentrations. In vivo the drug efficiently eliminates circulating anti-MAG antibodies. In 2017, promising in vivo proof of principle data has been published in the renowned journal PNAS. Polyneuron has already obtained the orphan drug designation from the European Medicines Agency for PN-1007 in anti-MAG neuropathy. CMC for PN-1007 has been stablished to major extent and clinical trial-enabling safety studies are ongoing. 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, which are used off-label. PN-1007 may protect myelin sheaths in patients by eliminating the pathogenic antibodies and thus potentially even enable myelin restoration.
PN-1018 for treatment of multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN)
PN-1018 is being developed for the treatment of multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN). PN-1018 presents multiple mimics of the natural GM1 carbohydrate epitope that is attacked by affinity-matured anti-GM1 autoantibodies in patients suffering from MMN. Thus it acts as a scavenger for the pathogenic antibodies. To date we have shown, that PN-1018 glyopolymers can efficiently block the binding of pathogenic anti-GM1 autoantibodies of neuropathy patients to GM1 in vitro. Further in vitro and in vivo evaluation of PN-1018 has been initiated. PN-1018 has the potential to eliminate anti-GM1 autoantibodies in patients suffering from MMN and may preserve the motor nerves by blocking antibody-mediated as well as complement-mediated pathogenic anti-GM1 antibody effects.
PN-032 & PN-056 for ABO-incompatible transplantation
PN-032 & PN-056 are developed for the selective in vivo depletion of isoagglutinin antibodies (anti-A and anti-B blood group antibodies). The A and B antigens are carbohydrate structures which are present on hematopoietic cells, endothelia, and many other tissues. The antibodies against these carbohydrate antigens present a key hurdle for organ and stem cell transplantations with ABO-blood group incompatibility. The ABO hurdle can be overcome by depletion of isoagglutinin antibodies which is nowadays achieved with multiple extracorporeal plasmapheresis or immunoadsorption cycles. These treatments are very cumbersome and time-consuming for the patients. In some cases, immunosuppressive treatment is used to suppress the production of isoagglutinin antibodies. Our compounds PN-032 & PN-056 can be conveniently administered as injectables. These compounds selectively bind and remove the isoagglutinin antibodies and furthermore potentially induce a down-regulation of isoagglutinin production, which would provide an additional benefit for the patients and potentially promote the survival of the transplant.
Debra is Chief Medical Officer of Polyneuron. She brings a 25 years successful track record from executive committee and leadership positions in the Pharma and Biotech sectors as well as fund raising & IPO experience in the Biotech sector.
Debra worked at Novartis, Roche, GSK (then SmithKline Beecham) & Polyphor. She is currently on the board of Destiny Pharma a UK company specializing in anti infectives and BerGenBio, an immuno-oncology company. She originally trained in Clinical Immunology and Microbiology and received her MD from Cambridge University, England
Ruben is a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Polyneuron. His drug discovery expertise, including chemical synthesis, assay development, compound screening, profiling and in vivo pharmacology led him to co-develop the anti-MAG neuropathy drug candidate PN-1007. He is an expert in the underlying core technology Antibody-Catch™. Ruben holds an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Basel.
Pascal is a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Polyneuron. Since the company’s foundation, Pascal has been instrumental in delivering on key company milestones in preclinical drug development, the management of contract research activities, and the interaction with health authorities. He holds a M.Sc. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Basel and completed his Ph.D. at the University of Zürich in Molecular Medicine.
Board of Directors
Ben Machielse has served as a Chairman of Polyneuron's Board since June 2019. He has more than 25 years of experience in the biotech industry. Ben has been involved with the successful development of multiple drugs, including the first H1N1 vaccine available to the public in the United States. Most recently, Ben served as Chief Executive Officer of Vtesse, a company developing treatments for Niemann Pick Disease. After completion of its pivotal clinical study, the company was acquired in April 2017 by Sucampo Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Vtesse, Ben served as Chief Operating Officer of Omthera Pharmaceuticals, where he was responsible for the development and approval of a drug for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia. He was integral in the IPO and subsequent acquisition of Omthera by AstraZeneca. Ben also served as Executive Vice President of Operations for MedImmune, spending 11 years there. In this role, he led the worldwide development and operations of MedImmune’s therapeutic antibodies, small molecules and vaccine products. Previously, Ben held executive roles within product development, quality and operations at Xoma Corporation and Centocor BV. He has served on the boards of Xencor, Inc. and Tetragenetics, Inc., and is currently a member of the board member of Comet Therapeutics and Complexa Therapeutics. Ben holds a Bachelor of Science in Medical Biology and a Master’s in Biochemistry from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
Graziano Seghezzi joined Polyneuron's Board in March 2019 after the company's Series A Financing. He is Managing Partner at Sofinnova Partners which he joined in 2006. He seed funded and was on the Board of GlycoVaxyn which was sold to GlaxoSmithKline in 2015 and Omthera Pharmaceuticals which went public on Nasdaq in 2013, then was sold to AstraZeneca later that year. Graziano also seed funded and is on the Board of Mission Therapeutics (United Kingdom), Crescendo Biologics (United Kingdom) and Hookipa Biotech (Austria). He promoted and is on the Board of BiovelocITA, Italy’s first biotech accelerator. Graziano started his career in venture capital in 2001 at Sofinnova Partners and then joined Index Venture in 2003. Prior to that, Graziano spent five years working in academic research at New York University’s School of Medicine, studying oncology and cardiovascular diseases. Graziano holds a degree in genetics and microbiology from the University of Pavia (Italy) and an MBA from RSM-Erasmus University (Netherlands).
Bibhash Mukhopadhyay is a Principal at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), where he focuses on investing in emerging therapeutics and device companies, assisting them grow and create value. Previously, he was at AstraZeneca / MedImmune as an Associate Director of Business Development, where his responsibilities spanned end-to-end in the deal-making spectrum, from search and evaluation to transactions, with focus on the immune-oncology and immunology spaces. He started his career at Johnson and Johnson, where he held multiple Business Development roles, at different times, in Global Surgery, Oncology and Emerging Technologies. Bibhash’s doctoral research work focused on pathophysiology of retinal diseases using tools of cell biology and mathematical modeling, during which he also consulted for venture funds and start-ups.
Dr. med. Werner M. Enz is Chief Executive Officer of ErfindungsVerwertung AG (EVA), the Basel Life Science start-up agency, and CEO of the Basel Inkubator. He holds a Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Bern, Switzerland, and an MBA with specialization in strategy from Edinburgh Business School, Scotland, UK. During his career, Dr. Enz worked for several innovative startups and mid-sized B2B technology companies in life science, leading late stage clinical and business development as well as commercial operations, including as country manager and CEO. He also held various senior executive positions with Roche in Basel, Canada and Germany, including running Roche’s largest business unit in oncology, immunology and transplant medicine. After a merger project with Rhône Poulenc Rorer (today Sanofi) in Sweden, he worked for Abbott International as Commercial Director Europe in the USA and Divisional Head Hospital business in Switzerland.
Ruben is a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Polyneuron. In March 2019, after the Series A financing, he joined Polyneuron's Board.
Scientific Advisory Board
Prof. Ernst is a co-founder of Polyneuron. He was Head of the Institute of Molecular Pharmacy at the University of Basel for many years. 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 Polyneuron's Antibody-Catch™ technology and its main asset PN-1007.
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. With his neurology know-how and valuable clinical network Prof. Steck supports Polyneuron particularly with respect to the clinical development of PN-1007.