INSPIRE launched to develop inhaled gene therapy for the treatment of lung cancer

December 6, 2022 - 3 minutes
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OmniSpirant Limited and EVerZom have launched INSPIRE, a €12.8 million ($13.4 million) lung cancer project funded by Horizon Europe. 

In one of the largest ever grants for preclinical research in lung cancer, OmniSpirant and its European partners in biotechnology, medical devices, cancer research, academia and patient advocacy, met in Galway, Ireland, for the official kick-off meeting.

Participating partners include Aerogen Limited (Ireland), Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), RemedyBio (Ireland), Myriad Associates (Ireland), Biopharma Excellence (Pharmalex) (Germany), Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ) (Germany), and Lung Cancer Europe (Switzerland). 

During the next three years of the project, the consortium will progress the development of a regenerative gene therapy as a transformative new treatment for lung cancer. The INSPIRE program aims to make an important and tangible impact on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and the EU Mission on Cancer.

Lung cancer costs

There are more than 470,000 lung cancer cases reported annually in Europe, accounting for 11% of all cancers. Cancer costs European countries €124 billion ($130 billion) every year, with lung cancer incurring the largest total cost, amounting to €19 billion ($19.9 billion), mostly due to losses relating to premature death. 

Cancers of the bronchus, lung and trachea currently cost the global economy €180 billion ($188.5 billion) annually.

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The approved treatments, such as targeted therapy and immune checkpoint inhibitors are prone to treatment resistance. The overall five-year survival rates for people with lung cancer remain extremely poor in comparison to other common cancers, highlighting the desperate need for innovative lung cancer treatments.

The project partners will work to drive progress of the development of a novel, effective and affordable gene therapy treatment, which will improve drug access and better outcomes for people with lung cancer. 

New gene therapies

OmniSpirant is an Irish biotech founded in 2016 to develop first-in-class inhaled regenerative gene therapies. OmniSpirant received EU funding in 2018 via the Horizon 2020 SME Instrument to develop advanced therapies for the treatment of cystic fibrosis.

The company’s new gene therapies are based on its proprietary OmniSome platform technology, which utilizes tiny particles carrying cellular cargoes, known as extracellular vesicles (EVs) secreted by stem cells. The OmniSome platform of products are currently being developed as first-in-class inhaled regenerative gene therapies for cystic fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), and now, targeting lung cancer via the INSPIRE project.

“We are delighted to collaborate with our pan-European partners in developing this exciting new approach,” said OmniSpirant CEO Gerry McCauley. 

“We are at the forefront of harnessing extracellular vesicles to deliver RNA based therapeutics in the fight against lung cancer and in developing our platform to address a host of chronic pulmonary conditions, which today have suboptimal treatment.”

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“We are delighted to collaborate with Omnispirant to bring our technologies and know how to manufacture extracellular vesicles at large scale and affordable costs to develop this future breakthrough treatment,” said EVerZom CEO Jeanne Volatron.

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