ASLAN spins out pre-clinical assets in joint venture with Bukwang to form JAGUAHR Therapeutics with Bukwang investing up to $5million to form JAGUAHR THERAPEUTICS
ASLAN and Bukwang will co-own new entity to develop novel pre-clinical AhR antagonists
– ASLAN Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:ASLN, TPEx:6497), a clinical-stage oncology and immunology focused biopharma company, and Bukwang Pharmaceutical (KRX:003000), a leading R&D focused Korean pharmaceutical company, today announced that they have established a new joint venture to develop preclinical aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) antagonists from ASLAN’s early stage pipeline. The independent company, JAGUAHR Therapeutics, will focus on developing new immuno-oncology therapeutics for global markets targeting the AhR pathway and will be based in Singapore.
Under the terms of the agreement, ASLAN will transfer the global rights to all of the assets related to AhR technology, originally discovered and developed by ASLAN and its collaborator Dr Mark Graham, into JAGUAHR. Bukwang will invest US$5 million in JAGUAHR in two tranches to fund the development of the assets, identify a lead development compound and file an Investigational New Drug application.
Dr Carl Firth, Chief Executive Officer, ASLAN Pharmaceuticals, said: “The launch of JAGUAHR Therapeutics is an important step by ASLAN to realise the value of our early stage assets and advance the development of our AhR antagonist technology at a time when focus is shifting towards AhR antagonists as a hot new area in immuno-oncology. Bukwang has a strong track record of achievement in the pharma business and creating this spinout together allows both companies to quickly progress these exciting compounds and potentially provide novel clinical assets to enrich the ASLAN pipeline. We look forward to working with the Bukwang team as we focus on identifying JAGUAHR’s first drug candidate.”
Dr Hee-Won Yoo, Chief Executive Officer, Bukwang Pharmaceutical, added: ““We are impressed and delighted to partner with ASLAN to establish JAGUAHR Therapeutics. Bukwang has a strong heritage in R&D and this agreement is aligned to our strategy to strengthen our innovative development pipeline and broaden early access to promising technology for treating conditions with unmet needs. We are very excited as the AhR antagonists program further marks Bukwang’s formal participation in the immuno-oncology arena. We look forward to working together with ASLAN to progress these novel immuno-oncology compounds into clinical development in oncology.”
AhR is a druggable transcription factor that acts as a master regulator of the immune system. The enzymes IDO1, IDO2 and TDO are frequently overexpressed in numerous tumour types and convert tryptophan into kynurenine (KYN) in the tumour microenvironment. KYN is then actively transported into dendritic cells and effector T-cells that are mobilised to detect and kill tumour cells. KYN signalling via AhR in these cell types converts them into regulatory T-cells, suppressing the immune system and preventing it from attacking tumour cells. Research has demonstrated that the unique advantages of AhR antagonists include broadly inhibiting the signalling of all AhR ligands produced by any enzyme that metabolises tryptophan, and robust activation of the immune response to kill cancer cells.