Poolbeg expands POLB 001 into oncology

January 17, 2023 - 3 minutes
Jeremy Skillington, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma. Photo/Poolbeg Pharma

Poolbeg Pharma has announced the strategic expansion of POLB 001 into oncology. 

POLB 001 is a strain agnostic, small molecule immunomodulator being studied to address the unmet medical need for a treatment for severe influenza.

While investigating the role of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) in severe influenza, Poolbeg discovered data specific to the overt immune response in CAR-T cell patients that suggest POLB 001 as a potential treatment option for this severe complication. The company has submitted a patent application for the use of POLB 001 in addressing the impact of CRS in CAR-T cell patients.

CAR-T cell therapies are a form of immunotherapy for cancer that have produced remarkable results across a range of hematological malignancies, including cases of complete and durable responses in patients with advanced leukemia and lymphoma who failed on previous therapies.  

A significant number of patients suffer treatment-related side effects, including CRS, which in severe form, can be life threatening. Cell therapies may induce these effects in up to 95% of patients. Poolbeg Pharma has identified POLB 001 as a potentially valuable companion therapy to be used in conjunction with existing CAR-T cell therapies to address this unmet need. POLB 001’s mode of action, reducing hyperinflammation associated with CRS, has the potential to significantly reduce the serious adverse effects experienced by many CAR-T cell patients.

New opportunity for Poolbeg Pharma’s POLB 001

The filed patent application is expected to provide class protection for use of p38 inhibitors in CAR T cell treatment and opens up a significant new market opportunity for POLB 001 in addition to severe influenza. 

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A long-term strategic objective for Poolbeg Pharma has been, and continues to be, to evaluate POLB 001’s potential in additional indications to fully unlock the potential value of the molecule and strengthen Poolbeg Pharma’s position with a view to potential partnering and out-licensing. The company is performing oncology clinical trials enabling activities to progress towards trial initiation in CAR-T cell patients in 2024. Further oncology-related data, regulatory feedback and non-clinical development updates are expected in 2023.

Brendan Buckley, scientific advisory board member at Poolbeg Pharma, said: “Hyperinflammation as a driver of disease severity in influenza is also fundamental to CRS, which can severely complicate CAR T cell therapy of patients with blood cancers. By reducing runaway inflammation associated with CRS, POLB 001 has the potential to significantly reduce the serious adverse effects that many CAR T cell patients suffer.

“With 18-19 million cases of cancer diagnosed globally each year, the use of cell therapies is predicted to expand significantly over the coming years with the CAR T cell market expected to grow to an estimated $6 billion by 2031. With oncology clinical trial enabling activities for POLB 001 under way, we look forward to updating the market as to the progress of this exciting program.”

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