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Almirall and IRB Barcelona announce new research collaboration

The two companies will work together to discover new therapies for chronic skin diseases

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Almirall, a global biopharmaceutical company focused on skin health, and IRB Barcelona (the Institute for Research in Biomedicine), an independent, international research centre engaged in fundamental and applied biomedical science, have announced a research collaboration to identify new oral treatments for immune-inflammatory skin diseases with remaining high unmet medical needs using molecular glue degraders, a novel therapeutic modality.

The proposed treatment uses a new molecular glue degradation modality, providing a different approach to inducing the degradation of potential disease-causing proteins that are unresponsive to conventional treatments.

By combining Almirall’s dermatological, scientific and data analysis expertise with IRB Barcelona’s targeted protein degradation (TPD) and drug discovery lab, Almirall will be able to expand its TPD knowledge into the therapy area of molecular glues.

The lab research will be led by Dr Cristina Mayor-Ruiz, junior group leader at IRB Barcelona and an expert in the field of TPD. Mayor-Ruiz has extensive experience in the areas of the rational screening of molecular glues, as well as an in-depth knowledge of molecular mechanisation.

The purpose of molecular glue degraders is to harness and reprogramme natural cellular mechanisms to remove specific disease-driving proteins from human tissues. The TPD ‘glues’ therapeutically relevant proteins and the machinery utilised by cells to naturally target and destroy harmful proteins.

Dr Mayor-Ruiz commented:  “We are very excited about this collaboration with Almirall. It's an amazing opportunity to put their knowledge and experience in dermatology, together with our expertise in molecular glues to accelerate drug discovery to treat skin diseases. The biochemical characteristics of molecular glues make them suitable candidates, and this innovative approach could really mark a turning point in dermatological pharmacology.”

Dr Thomas Huber, head of research at Almirall, said: "This exciting collaboration underlines Almirall's R&D commitment to provide innovative treatment options to patients suffering from severe skin diseases. It also builds on complementary core expertise of each partner to facilitate research and drug development. We are eager to start working with Dr Cristina Mayor-Ruiz’s group in the development of molecular glue therapeutic and are convinced that this partnership has the potential to address unmet needs in dermatological diseases."

Almirall has been making steady progress over the past year, establishing strategic collaborations to
further drug discovery and increase development efficiency in medical dermatology, while adding its latest partnership with IRB Barcelona to its expanding portfolio.

Other agreements entered into by Almirall include the company’s collaboration with BIOMAP – the European Innovative Medicine’s Initiative (IMI) first dermatology project to advance the areas of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Almirall has also been working closely in collaboration with the University of Dundee, with plans to develop and produce new treatments based on another form of targeted protein degraders, proteolysis targeted chimeras.

Article by
Fleur Jeffries

19th January 2022

From: Healthcare

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