NLRP3 early and often

The inflammasome space heats up as pharmas get in

Inflammasome inhibitors could offer a step change for a slew of inflammatory diseases and pharma is taking notice. Two acquisitions in six months show the first inflammasome target -- NLRP3 -- is gaining momentum, but the question is how fast drug developers can discern the best set of indications from the sea of possibilities.

As the myriad contributions of innate immunity to disease become increasingly apparent, the attraction of the inflammasome, and in particular NLPR3, its most well-characterized component, is its therapeutic versatility.

Inhibitors of NLRP3 offer one of the most compelling alternatives to antibodies against IL-1β and other cytokines, which until now have been the mainstay of anti-inflammatory drug development.

The inflammasome drives innate immunity in a variety of cell types, sitting atop an inflammatory cascade that triggers cytokine release and immune cell recruitment. Preclinical studies have tied it to indications that cytokine mAbs can’t address, spanning metabolic disease, autoimmunity, neurology and oncology. NLRP3 inhibition is also expected to have safety advantages over targeting cytokines.

At least four biotechs with NLRP3 inhibitors have been founded in the last four years, and in 2018, they raised a collective $117 million in venture capital.

Pharmas have been quick to join in.

Within one year of launching with a $31 million series A round, IFM Tre Inc.

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