BARCELONA, Spain and Paris, France, May 18, 2022 – Almirall, S.A. (ALM), a global biopharmaceutical company focused on skin health, and Inserm Transfert, the private subsidiary of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), today announced a licensing agreement and research collaboration to advance treatment options for vitiligo. The partnership, signed by Inserm Transfert, on behalf of Inserm, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire of Nice and University of Nice Côte d’Azur, will focus on identifying and developing a novel class of medicines that modulate the Wnt pathway, a key target involved in skin repigmentation.
Vitiligo is a chronic skin condition that affects 0.5 to 2% of the worldwide populationand is associated with a loss of pigmentation. For patients, the visibility of the lesions is perceived as disfiguring and burdensome. Consequently, there is a high level of psychological burden, as well as treatment needs. Despite this, the condition is an underserved market with high unmet medical need for differentiated products with novel mechanisms of action, especially to treat some resistant locations that are frequently involved such as the hands.
Through this partnership, the knowledge of Prof. Thierry Passeron’s team at the Mediterranean Centre for Molecular Medicine (C3M -Inserm U1065- University of Nice Côte d’Azur), who has been at the forefront of research in vitiligo, will be combined with Almirall’s expertise in drug discovery to identify and develop new topical compounds for the treatment of the condition. Almirall has also been granted global rights to Inserm’s background patents on the use of Wnt agonists in the treatment of vitiligo.
“Vitiligo can have a huge impact on patients’ quality of life. We are pleased to announce this new collaboration with a centre of excellence such as Inserm to develop innovative treatments for this skin condition. This milestone once again demonstrates Almirall’s commitment to improving the lives of patients in an underserved disease where there are still significant unmet needs”, stated Karl Ziegelbauer, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Almirall.
“The collaboration with Prof. Passeron’s group is a prime example of Almirall’s desire to collaborate with academic centres of excellence to advance research into areas of significant unmet need. Building on the expertise of Almirall´s external Innovation & Licensing team, we are perfectly positioned to tap into an increasingly innovative and collaborative environment in Europe, as demonstrated by Inserm Transfert in France”, added Volker Koscielny, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Almirall.
“It is mandatory to induce the differentiation and the proliferation of melanocyte stem cells for promoting the repigmentation of the lesions. The Wnt signaling pathway is key in this process and we demonstrated that this pathway is significantly altered in vitiligo skin”, explained Prof. Thierry Passeron, MD, PhD, Professor of Dermatology at University Hospital of Nice and Laboratory Head at Inserm, Nice. “This partnership will allow developing topical compounds to stimulate this pathway and to repigment vitiligo lesions. This approach is innovative and unique, and should allow repigmenting vitiligo lesions, including in classical resistant areas”, added Prof. Passeron.
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