“We are extremely pleased to enter into this strategic partnership with Lung Rx,” said Wade A. Lange, President and CEO of ImmuneWorks. “ImmuneWorks and Lung Rx share a common goal of addressing the needs of patients who are suffering from life-threatening pulmonary diseases, that makes Lung Rx a perfect partner for us.”
Founded by Indiana University School of Medicine scientists, Michael Klemsz, PhD, and David Wilkes, MD, and Ronald Meeusen, PhD, Managing Partner of MidPoint Food & Ag Fund, ImmuneWorks is developing a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which kills more than 40,000 people each year and for primary graft dysfunction (PGD), which is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality following lung transplantation. ImmuneWorks first product, IW-001 (bovine type V collagen, oral solution) is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration in anticipation of first human testing in 2010.
“We are delighted to form this partnership with ImmuneWorks in these areas of high unmet medical need,” said Lung Rx President and CEO Martine Rothblatt, Ph.D. “This development program further solidifies our commitment to clinical research in diseases with few, if any, approved therapeutic options.”
“This partnership is a welcome demonstration of the importance of supporting and expanding a robust program of research along with our education and patient care missions,” said D. Craig Brater, dean of the IU School of Medicine. “Translating our investigators’ leading-edge science into new treatments and products will mean better health and a stronger economy for Hoosiers while also exposing our students to the importance of tech transfer.”
ImmuneWorks was a 2007 recipient of a $2.0 million grant from the state’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund. “Continued development of potential life-saving treatments is exactly why the 21 Fund exists,” said Mitch Roob, Secretary of Commerce and chief executive of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. “This partnership brings ImmuneWorks one step closer to commercializing its technology and further diversifying the Hoosier economy.”
“Our BioCrossroads’ Indiana Seed Fund was the first institutional investor in ImmuneWorks through our early commitment of $500,000 to build this promising company,” said David Johnson, President and CEO of BioCrossroads. “From the start, we have believed this company and its compelling products hold high potential to address unmet medical need and bring substantial, long-term return on our investment – and for our community. The ImmuneWorks story, starting with its gifted scientific founders and strong leadership team, also represents a true proof of concept for the IU School of Medicine’s translational research program,” Johnson added. “This is just a great example of how a start-up company, born and grown out of groundbreaking IU research, can go the distance and enter into an important partnership with a global biotech leader.”
About idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis disease and primary graft dysfunction
IPF is a devastating lung disease that is progressive and generally fatal. There are an estimated 128,000 persons in the United States who suffer from IPF with 48,000 new persons diagnosed with this devastating disease annually and 40,000 patients dying from the disease each year (source: Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis). The number of deaths annually is the same as breast cancer and greater than other cancers such as multiple myeloma. PGD is the leading cause of early morbidity and mortality following lung transplantation and is a significant contributor to the development of chronic lung transplant rejection, the leading cause of death following transplantation
ImmuneWorks (www.immuneworks.com) is a biotechnology company developing novel therapeutics and diagnostic tests for patients with autoimmune conditions. Founded in 2006 by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers on the principle of oral tolerance, ImmuneWorks brings an understanding of immunology and autoimmune diseases to create therapeutics that will make a difference in the lives of patients. The company is developing treatments for serious pulmonary diseases such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and prevention of lung transplant rejection. For more information please visit www.immuneworks.com.
About Lung Rx and United Therapeutics
Lung Rx LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of United Therapeutics Corporation, is a biotechnology company focused on unmet medical needs in pulmonary medicine and pulmonary delivery of innovative therapeutic products. United Therapeutics Corporation is a biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of unique products to address the unmet medical needs of patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions. For more information about Lung Rx, visit www.lungrx.com.
Created by Governor Mitch Daniels in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Daniels. Mitch Roob serves as the chief executive officer of the IEDC. For more information about IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.
BioCrossroads (www.biocrossroads.com) is Indiana’s initiative to grow the life sciences, a public-private collaboration that supports the region’s research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development. BioCrossroads provides money and support to life sciences businesses, launches new life sciences businesses, expands collaboration and partnerships among Indiana’s life science institutions, expands science education and markets Indiana’s life sciences industry.