Lilly to develop Confo pain drug


Confo Therapeutics, which works on the discovery of medicines targeting G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), has announced a worldwide licensing agreement with Eli Lilly and Company for Confo’s clinical stage CFTX-1554 and back-up compounds.

CFTX-1554, a novel inhibitor of the angiotensin II type 2 receptor (AT2R) is currently in phase 1 clinical development. It represents a non-opioid approach to treating neuropathic pain, a condition caused by damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, and potentially additional peripheral pain indications. Current treatment methods are often insufficiently effective and can lead to serious side effects including addiction. Patients suffering from peripheral pain are therefore in urgent need of effective analgesics that are well-tolerated and do not impact quality of life.

Under the terms of the agreement, Eli Lilly will continue the clinical development program beyond phase 1. In addition, the agreement considers a program to further develop Confo Therapeutics’ existing therapeutic antibody candidates targeting the same receptor. Confo Therapeutics will receive a $40 million upfront payment from Eli Lilly as well as up to $590 million in potential milestone payments per program and tiered royalties. Confo maintains a co-investment option to participate in the funding of future development programs after clinical proof-of-concept for additional royalties.

“We are pleased that Lilly, an expert in chronic pain with a wealth of experience in bringing novel therapies to patients, has recognized Confo’s ability to develop best-in-class GPCR drug candidates,” said Cedric Ververken, CEO of Confo Therapeutics. 

“CFTX-1554’s progression through the clinic will benefit from Lilly’s experience and global organization, while we will continue to develop and expand our growing, innovative pipeline of GPCR-targeted assets, both small molecules and biologics.”

About CFTX-1554

CFTX-1554 is Confo Therapeutics’ first product candidate in clinical development and is a non-opioid approach designed to address peripheral (neuropathic) pain while avoiding centrally mediated side effects, such as addiction and sedation. The compound is a novel inhibitor of angiotensin II type 2 receptor (AT2R), a clinically precedented target for the treatment of neuropathic pain.

Whereas previous compounds targeting AT2R have failed to reach market approval, CFTX-1554 is distinct in that it interacts more efficiently with the AT2R binding site, resulting in improved drug-like properties. CFTX-1554 is currently being examined in a phase 1 first-in-human clinical study.

About Confo Therapeutics

Confo Therapeutics’ technology stabilizes functional conformations of GPCRs (G-protein coupled receptors), enabling the discovery of chemical or biological ligands that are conformationally selective. This platform, combined with the pharmacologic and biologic insight it provides, allows Confo to build a multi-indication pipeline of drug candidates with the vision of transforming therapeutic outcomes for patients with severe illnesses lacking disease-modifying treatments. 

Confo Therapeutics was spun out of VIB-VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) in Belgium in 2015. 

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