Dutch company Escalier Biosciences has raised funds of $19M to develop psoriasis treatments. The funding will be utilised to develop systemic and oral treatments for psoriasis and other autoimmune diseases, with an expectation to initiate human clinical trials by late 2018.

Escalier has two immunotherapy programmes that could alter the production of interleukin-17 (IL-17), a cytokine that is actively involved in inflammatory responses in psoriasis. The specific target for the oral technology is the nuclear hormone receptor, RORγt, which is the main regulator of Th17 cell differentiation and the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as IL-17A and IL-17F.

Figure 1: TNF and Interleukin Inhibitors in the Treatment of Psoriasis.

Currently marketed and pipeline drugs for psoriasis mostly target tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) or various interleukins, as shown in Figure 1 above, adapted from a recent article by Hawkes and colleagues published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The TNF-α inhibitors include AbbVie’s Humira, Pfizer’s Enbrel, and Janssen’s Remicade, and the interleukin inhibitors include Novartis’ Cosentyx, Valeant’s Siliq, and Eli Lilly’s Taltz. Additionally, the route of administration of these drugs is through subcutaneous injection.

Therefore, despite being another IL-17 inhibitor, Escalier’s therapy could be a game-changer in the fiercely competitive psoriasis market, as it could be taken orally once daily, which would place a reduced burden on the patient and clinical staff, and improve compliance.

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