In addition to our clinical programs, we are developing two preclinical integrin-based programs. The first is our oncology program. In the tumor microenvironment, certain integrins, such as αVβ8, can be overexpressed, resulting in increased activation and signaling of TGF-β, leading to a strong anti-inflammatory effect and resistance to immuno-oncology therapies. We are targeting integrins such as αVβ8 with the goal of removing the anti-inflammatory effect and, ultimately, sensitizing tumors to checkpoint inhibitors.
Our second preclinical program, a monoclonal antibody being developed for treatment of muscular dystrophies, including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We have identified an integrin receptor that appears to act as a natural compensatory mechanism in muscular dystrophy, helping preserve muscle function and slow deterioration. We have shown in animal models that by activating this receptor with an antibody, we are able to increase muscle strength and reduce muscle damage. Because the antibody is not mutation specific, it could potentially be effective as a single therapy or in combination with other treatments across multiple muscular dystrophy indications. This program is currently in the candidate selection phase of development.