Artax Biopharma, Inc., a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on transforming the treatment of T-cell-mediated diseases, today announces the Company is strengthening its Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) with the appointments of James G. Krueger, M.D., Ph.D., and Ajay Nirula, M.D., Ph.D.
Artax Biopharma has an ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial evaluating AX-158, the Company’s first-in-class, oral small molecule immunomodulating agent that selectively acts at the T-cell receptor to lower self-antigen triggered cytokines, a known cause of autoimmune disease. Importantly, AX-158 has the potential to treat T-cell-mediated diseases without immunosuppression.
“We are honored to welcome global experts Drs. Krueger and Nirula to our Scientific Advisory Board, as they each bring unique research and extensive clinical experience across T-cell-mediated diseases,” said D. Scott Batty, Jr., M.D., Artax Biopharma’s Chief Medical Officer. “Drs. Krueger and Nirula bring a profound understanding of T-cell biology and pathophysiology and have success in bringing these effective treatments to patients who need them most. We are very grateful for their expert guidance and developmental insights as we progress AX-158 through clinical trials,” Dr. Batty, Jr. added.
Dr. Krueger serves as Head of the Laboratory for Investigative Dermatology and as the D. Martin Carter Professor in Clinical Investigation and Dermatology at The Rockefeller University. He is co-director for the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at The Rockefeller University Hospital and has been serving as the Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer since July of 2008. Dr. Krueger uses psoriasis as a model to study inflammatory diseases that involve Th17 cells, a subset of T cells. His work has formed the scientific basis for the highly successful treatment of psoriasis with a range of biologic immune drugs that target the “Type 17” inflammatory immune axis.
Dr. Krueger earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his Ph.D. degree in Virology and Cell Biology from The Rockefeller University. He received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College, where he also completed an internship in internal medicine and a residency in dermatology. Dr. Krueger is board certified in dermatology by the American Board of Dermatology and has been the recipient of numerous notable academic and industry honors throughout his career.
Dr. Nirula is Senior Vice President, Immunology, for Eli Lilly and Company based at the Lilly Biotechnology Center in San Diego. Dr. Nirula joined Eli Lilly in 2015 and is responsible for the Company’s discovery, research, and early phase clinical development in immunology. He has also served as the medical leader for Eli Lilly’s work during the COVID pandemic that led to emergency authorization for the Company’s multiple therapeutic neutralizing antibodies. Prior to joining Eli Lilly, Dr. Nirula held leadership positions at Amgen, and at Biogen Idec, and was involved in several research programs and regulatory filings spanning diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and vasculitis.
Dr. Nirula earned his undergraduate degree in molecular biology from UC Berkeley, his medical degree from UCLA School of Medicine, and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He subsequently joined the faculty in the Division of Rheumatology at UCSF Medical Center. Dr. Nirula has published extensively in premier peer-reviewed medical journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and Nature Immunology.
Drs. Krueger and Nirula are welcomed by Artax’s current SAB members:
- Balbino Alarcón, Ph.D., Artax Founder and Program Director at the National Research Council of Spain (CSIC) and Head of TCR-mediated Signal Transduction Laboratory;
- Raif Geha, M.D., James L. Gamble Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Allergy/Immunology/Rheumatology and Dermatology Division at Children’s Hospital in Boston;
- Menno de Rie, M.D., Vice-Chair of the Department of Dermatology of the Amsterdam University Medical Centres /University of Amsterdam since 2012;
- Lawrence Steinman, M.D., Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, Pediatrics, and Genetics at Stanford University; and
- Cox Terhorst, Ph.D., Professor of Immunology at Harvard Medical School and Chief, Immunology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Artax believes immunomodulation – selective targeting of specific functions and operations of the immune system – holds great potential to address tremendous unmet need in immunology. Our investigational immunomodulating agents act directly at the T-cell receptor (TCR) to selectively target inappropriately activated areas of the immune system, thus eliminating a cause of T-cell-driven diseases while not impacting a patient’s ability to effectively fight foreign pathogens and infections.
T-cells are the central, critical cells orchestrating the immune response, protecting the body against foreign pathogens, infections and malignancy while importantly not reacting to an individual’s tissues and organs. The TCR activates and controls the many functions and responses of the T-cell, serving a critical role for both healthy immune system and T-cell response.
Dysregulated TCR signaling results in increased cytokine signaling, a root cause of T-cell-mediated diseases, including autoimmune diseases. In addition to autoimmune diseases, T-cell-mediated diseases include T-cell malignancies, and induced T-cell pathologies where therapeutic treatments result in unwanted immune reaction side effects. Such induced T-cell immune reactions include stem cell transplants resulting in acute graft-versus-host-disease, and immuno-oncology treatments resulting in immune-related-adverse events. This central role of dysregulated TCR signaling across several disease states therefore makes the TCR a highly attractive target for therapeutic intervention.
AX-158 is a first-in-class, oral, small molecule immunomodulating agent in clinical development for the treatment of T-cell-mediated diseases. The immunomodulatory effect of AX-158 is designed to safely return the immune system to a state of rebalance without immunosuppression.
AX-158 is a highly specific (SH3.1 domain) inhibitor of Nck, a protein that naturally amplifies T-cell signaling caused by self-antigens at the TCR. AX-158 inhibits Nck at the TCR, resulting in less TCR activation and lowered self-antigen triggered cytokines, including Th-1, Th-17 and Th-2 type cytokines. High levels of such various cytokines are associated with a broad set of T-cell mediated autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and many others. Importantly, preclinical data suggests AX-158 is not immunosuppressive, and so does not impact the immune system’s ability to mount a strong response to foreign pathogens and infections.
Artax Biopharma is a clinical-stage biotechnology company transforming the treatment of T-cell-driven diseases through innovative small molecules that modulate the immune system. Artax’s disruptive science holds broad potential to treat T-cell-mediated diseases such as autoimmune diseases, induced T-cell pathologies (such as acute graft-versus-host disease, and immune-oncology treatment-related adverse events), and T-cell malignancies, while simultaneously allowing the body to fight foreign pathogens and infections. For more information, please visit www.artaxbiopharma.com and connect with us on LinkedIn.