HemoShear Therapeutics, Inc., a privately held clinical stage biotechnology company, has identified a second drug target for the treatment of gout under its collaboration with Horizon Therapeutics plc (Nasdaq: HZNP) that was established in January 2019. Leveraging its proprietary REVEAL-TxTM disease modeling platform, HemoShear has earned two milestone payments to date in accordance with the Horizon exclusive drug discovery agreement. Each milestone acknowledges the validation of a novel drug target and its advancement to a subsequent stage in Horizon’s early discovery pipeline.
“In two years, Hemoshear has generated and validated two novel targets that we intend to pursue to treat gout, a painful form of inflammatory arthritis affecting more than nine million people in the United States,” said Paul Peloso, MD, vice president and therapeutic head of rheumatology at Horizon. “Therapeutic candidates that modulate these novel targets have the potential to lower uric acid levels and reduce the agonizing acute and chronic pain that uncontrolled gout can cause in patients.”
“Our collaboration with Horizon demonstrates the utility of the REVEAL-Tx platform to rapidly identify novel targets in silico and validate them using our human cell-based disease models,” said Brian Wamhoff, PhD, chief operating officer and head of innovation, HemoShear. “We look forward to the collaboration advancing new drug discovery programs in a painful disease that is in need of better treatments.”
Under the terms of the January 2019 agreement, HemoShear received an upfront payment and R&D funding, and Horizon received exclusive access to HemoShear’s proprietary disease modeling platform to discover new therapeutics for gout. Successful development and commercialization of multiple therapies by Horizon will make HemoShear eligible to receive milestone payments of potentially more than $500 million plus royalties. Further financial terms were not disclosed.
Gout is a chronic, progressive inflammatory form of arthritis that is caused by excess uric acid in the body and needs to be managed aggressively. If uric acid levels in the blood remain elevated, crystals can form and deposit in the joints, which can lead to severe pain, tenderness, stiffness, swelling and joint damage. In addition to the joint damage, urate crystals can also deposit in other organs of the body, and if left unmanaged, gout can lead to significant tissue damage. Uncontrolled gout occurs when people living with gout continue to have high levels of uric acid and gout symptoms despite the use of standard oral urate-lowering therapies.