RIPK1 is a cytoplasmic protein kinase that mediates inflammation signaling pathway. It is involved in the production and secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines, as well as cell death.
Inflammatory diseases range from autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, to neuroinflammation such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. The amount of annual cost for anti-inflammatory disease exceeded $100 billion and it is expected to increase by 2~5% every year. Currently, there are few drugs in the market that are efficacious, safe, affordable, and convenient to use and many patients are waiting for innovative drugs. There is a huge room for improvement and multiple companies are developing drugs for inflammatory diseases.
In the psoriasis animal model, VRN04 has shown to relieve the symptom of skin thickening by 30%. When treated to ulcerative colitis animal model, the symptom was relieved to the level of naïve animals that do not have the colitis. Furthermore, in these animals, the plasma levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines have been reduced by 10-30% of the non-treated animals. In the rheumatoid arthritis animal model, VRN04 has shown to relieve the symptom by more than 50%, as well as significantly reduce the level of pro-inflammatory gene expression. In contrast to the fact that there is safety concerns with drugs that are currently marketed or under development, VRN04 shows sufficient safety and tolerability so that they can be developed for the treatment of inflammatory diseases which are rather chronic and require years of treatment.
VRN04 program is under toxicology studies for clinical trial approval, and as soon as we have positive results, we plan to start global phase I clinical trial with healthy volunteers in the first half of 2020.
Voronoi is collaborating with research organizations in Korea and globally that have expertise in each inflammatory disease type. Our collaborators include Korea Brain Research Institute, Yonsei University Hospital, Yeungnam University College of Pharmacy, Chonbuk University College of Medicine, Kyungpook University College of Medicine, Delaware State University, and we are under discussion with more research organizations.