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Sep 17, 2018

IFM Therapeutics Publishes Data in Nature Reviews Neuroscience Examining Newly Discovered Role of the Inflammasome in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Article examines activation of NLRP3 and other inflammasomes in neurodegenerative disease progression

BOSTON, September 17, 2018— IFM Therapeutics, LLC (IFM), a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapies that modulate novel targets in the innate immune system, today announced the publication of a comprehensive review of current knowledge on the NLRP3 inflammasome’s role in brain function and neurodegeneration in Nature Reviews Neuroscience. The work was co-authored by IFM clinical advisory board member Michael Heneka, M.D., and Roisin McManus, M.D., Ph.D., both of the Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases & Geriatric Psychiatry at the University of Bonn, and by IFM co-founder Eicke Latz, M.D., Ph.D., of the Institute of Innate Immunity at the University of Bonn.

Inflammasomes, which regulate cells of the immune system, are signaling complexes that provoke an inflammatory reaction when infection or tissue damage is detected. In the brain, inflammasomes are mostly present in microglia, the primary innate immune cells of the CNS. NLRP3 (NOD-, LRR- and pyrin domain-containing 3) is one of the key inflammasomes present in microglia that becomes activated when certain danger signals are present. For example, NLRP3 responds to misfolded or aggregated amyloid-β, α-synuclein or prion proteins, reactive oxygen species or excess amounts of extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Recently, preclinical studies have found that the activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome leads to the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. 

“The NLRP3 inflammasome is a critical driver of unrestricted inflammation and disease pathology in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases where treatments are limited or non-existent,” said Eicke Latz, M.D., Ph.D., IFM co-founder and founder and director of the Institute of Innate Immunity, University of Bonn. “The growing body of literature provides experimental, epidemiological, genetic and epigenetic data that suggest a potential therapeutic role for interventions such as NLRP3 antagonists that can effectively inhibit this immune signaling mechanism.”

Inflammation’s Role in Chronic Disease

In diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the role of inflammation has long been established and understood. However, until recently, inflammation in neurodegeneration was viewed as a bystander phenomenon that did not interfere with disease pathogenesis. Research has recently started to uncover that inflammation, in particular inflammasome activation, contributes to the disease progression and spreading of pathology in neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, it is hypothesized that pharmacologic interventions that can reduce inflammation through the inhibition of inflammasome activity may serve as opportunities to treat or slow the advance of several neurodegenerative diseases.

“Developing small-molecule therapies that can cross the blood-brain barrier to block a targeted source of neuroinflammation could be a game-changer for a patient group that, sadly, has not seen the advances in treatment options that those living with other chronic conditions have,” said Gary D. Glick, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of IFM. “At IFM, we believe that targeting the inflammasome, and specifically the NLRP3 inflammasome, may be a promising approach to slow or halt progression in these diseases. Our subsidiary IFM Tre is working with urgency to advance a CNS-penetrant, small-molecule NLRP3 antagonist candidate for potential use in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions, with the goal of improving the lives of those who make up this critically underserved patient group.”

About IFM Therapeutics, LLC

IFM Therapeutics, LLC (IFM) is a privately held biopharmaceutical company based in Boston, Massachusetts. The company was founded by an international group of preeminent scientists and physicians who have spent decades understanding innate immunity and the role it plays in regulating the immune system. IFM’s team has discovered and developed small molecules that modulate novel targets in the innate immune system as next-generation therapies for cancer, auto-immunity, and inflammatory disorders. IFM owns and operates IFM Tre, a subsidiary company launched in July of 2018 that is developing a suite of small-molecule antagonists targeting inappropriate inflammatory responses of the innate immune system via the NLRP3 pathway. For more information, please visit    

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