Bridge Medicines, Rockefeller Team Up to Develop New Therapy for HAE Type 3

Bridge Medicines, Rockefeller Team Up to Develop New Therapy for HAE Type 3
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Bridge Medicines and The Rockefeller University are collaborating to treat hereditary angioedema (HAE) by developing a series of compounds to inhibit the coagulation factor XII, known as FXIIa.

Overactive FXIIa — often caused by a mutation in the F12 gene — is the leading cause of HAE type 3, a rare form of angioedema. It triggers a biological process causing fluid to leak through blood vessel walls and into the surrounding tissues. This inflammation and swelling is characteristic of all HAE subtypes and becomes life-threatening when it affects the airways and lungs.

Rockefeller researchers Jan L. Breslow, MD, and Manish Ponda, MD, discovered that blocking FXIIa might guard against these attacks. They later identified several small molecules capable of inhibiting FXIIa.

“Our results indicate that inhibitors of FXIIa may show utility against HAE and potentially a variety of other inflammatory disorders,” Breslow said in a press release. “The possibility of developing new treatments to address such unmet medical needs continues to motivate our research efforts.”

The exclusive license agreement the university has now signed with Bridge allows the company to advance the researchers’ efforts toward creating viable new medicines. In recent years, there have been many therapeutic advances for patients with the classical types of HAE — types 1 and 2 – which are caused by mutations in the SERPING1 gene.

But therapies that specifically target HAE type 3 are limited.

Rockefeller joined several other universities, investment firms, and Takeda Pharmaceuticals in launching Bridge Medicines in 2016. The company’s operating model rests on moving early-stage research projects developed in academic institutions through pre-clinical and clinical development.

Bridge acts as an incubator of academic research with commercial potential. In contrast to common routes toward drug development, such as selling intellectual property to a pharmaceutical company for it to develop, or creating a new company around a single potential therapy, Bridge’s goal is to provide a space for new technologies to grow until they show success that will be needed to warrant human clinical trials.

Upon reaching that point, the potential new medicines would be spun off into new companies.

“We are thrilled to be working with Dr. Breslow on this highly innovative, and therapeutically promising project,” said William Polvino, MD, CEO of Bridge Medicines.

“Drs. Breslow and Ponda have already shown that the lead compounds are efficacious in disease models of immune mediated inflammatory disorders,” Polvino said. “We see this as an exciting opportunity to revolutionize treatment for these disorders with a new medicine.”

Forest Ray received his PhD in systems biology from Columbia University, where he developed tools to match drug side effects to other diseases. He has since worked as a journalist and science writer, covering topics from rare diseases to the intersection between environmental science and social justice. He currently lives in Long Beach, California.
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Inês holds a PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, where she specialized in blood vessel biology, blood stem cells, and cancer. Before that, she studied Cell and Molecular Biology at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and worked as a research fellow at Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologias and Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência. Inês currently works as a Managing Science Editor, striving to deliver the latest scientific advances to patient communities in a clear and accurate manner.
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Forest Ray received his PhD in systems biology from Columbia University, where he developed tools to match drug side effects to other diseases. He has since worked as a journalist and science writer, covering topics from rare diseases to the intersection between environmental science and social justice. He currently lives in Long Beach, California.
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