Who and what is POLYNEURON?
Polyneuron is pioneering a novel therapeutic approach for the effective and safe treatment of antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases where a pathological role of autoantibodies is well established. Polyneuron’s platform focus is on devastating autoimmune diseases 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 36.5 million to date, Polyneuron has delivered preclinical proof of principle with its lead compound PN-1007 (PPSGG) which has now entered Phase I clinical development in patients with anti-MAG neuropathy. Orphan drug designation has been obtained for PN-1007 (PPSGG) from both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US. In addition, foundations for a promising pipeline have been laid – the Antibody-Catch™ technology platform has wide-ranging applicability. 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 first 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 safe immunotherapy. Polyneuron has extensive know-how in drug discovery and is firstly focusing to employ the Antibody-Catch™ technology for autoimmune diseases which involve autoantibodies against carbohydrate epitopes.
Safety & Manufacturing
Guillain-Barré Syndrome / Multifocal Motor Neuropathy
ABO-incompatible organ & stem cell transplantation
PN-032 & PN-056
PN-1007 / PPSGG for the treatment of anti-MAG neuropathy
PN-1007 / PPSGG 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 (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Polyneuron has already obtained the orphan drug designation from both the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US for PN-1007 / PPSGG in anti-MAG neuropathy. CMC for PN-1007 / PPSGG has been established to a major extent and clinical trial-enabling safety studies are ongoing. Treatment with PN-1007 / PPSGG would be the first antigen-specific therapy for anti-MAG neuropathy. It is more selective in its mode of action compared with currently available, unspecific immunosuppressive treatments which are used off-label. PN-1007 / PPSGG has the potential to provide enhanced efficacy and may protect myelin sheaths in patients by eliminating the pathogenic antibodies and thus, potentially, even enable myelin restoration.
PN-1018 for the treatment of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) and Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MMN)
PN-1018 is being developed for the treatment of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) and 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 and the AMAN (Acute Motor Axonal Neuropathy) variant of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). 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 both MMN and the AMAN variety of GBS. PN-1018 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 being 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 currently addressed 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 will be conveniently administered as injectables. These compounds will be able to selectively and efficiently bind to remove the isoagglutinin antibodies and potentially induce a down-regulation of isoagglutinin production. This would provide an additional benefit for patients and potentially promote the survival of the graft.
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
Aled Williams is Chief Business Officer of Polyneuron. Aled brings more than twenty-five years of leadership experience across pharma and biotech sectors. Most recently, he served as Chief Commercial Officer at VectivBio. VectivBio was spun-out of Therachon (following the acquisition by Pfizer), where Aled also served as Chief Commercial Officer. Aled’s prior experience includes more than seven years at Shire, where he was Vice President and Global Strategy Head and led three of the rare disease therapeutic areas in Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS), Gaucher Disease and Hereditary Angioedema (HAE). Prior to Shire, Aled held leadership positions of increasing responsibility at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis and Roche. Aled originally trained in microbiology and started his career working in Public Health.
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).
Over ten years of experience in venture capital and medicinal research. Prior experience as a registered pharmacist, and in antibody technology research at Philogen. Holds a PhD and an MSc in Medicinal and Industrial Pharmaceutical Sciences from ETH Zurich and is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) since 2019.
Matt joined NEA in 2018 and is currently a Partner on the healthcare team. He focuses on biopharma investments.
Prior to NEA, Matt was a Principal at F-Prime Capital Partners. During his five years at F-Prime, he was responsible for closing investments in more than 20 private biopharma companies, and served on the board of more than 10 portfolio companies. Prior to F-Prime, he was a management consultant in the health and life sciences practice at Oliver Wyman, a biotech equity research analyst at Robert W. Baird, and a healthcare investment banker at JP Morgan. He also conducted lipid metabolism research at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Disorders.
Matt received a BA with Honors in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago, an MD from the University of Illinois, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Dr. Michael Wacker is a General Partner at BioMed Partners and currently represents BioMed Partners on the board of directors of Tubulis GmbH (D) and Topas Therapeutics GmbH (D). Dr. Michael Wacker successfully built up various start-up companies. In addition, he coaches start-up companies in Switzerland for Innosuisse, the governmental commission of technology and innovation. Currently he is cofounder and member of the board of directors of LimmaTech Biologics AG, Inura Medical AG and chairman of the board of Inositec AG. Previously he was board member and Chief Business Officer of POLYNEURON PHAMACEUTICALS AG; Before joining POLYNEURON PHAMACEUTICALS AG, he was founder, board member and CSO of GlycoVaxyn AG, a vaccine development company that was acquired by GSK in 2015 and which valued the company at $212
million. Dr. Michael Wacker co-founded GlycoVaxyn AG in 2004 as a spin-off company from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). Dr. Michael Wacker holds a M.Sc. in biochemistry and completed his Ph.D. and post-doctoral fellowship in microbiology at ETHZ. He is the author of several publications in international scientific journals, including Science and PNAS, as well as inventor of various patent applications.
Ruben is a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Polyneuron. In March 2019, after the Series A financing, he joined Polyneuron's Board.