The background of Cyxone
Cyxone was founded in 2015 to further develop the cyclotide technology acquired by the investment fund Accequa AB from the Medical University of Vienna, Austria, and the university clinic in Freiburg, Germany. The aim of the company is to develop better pharmaceutical products that considerably improve quality of life for patients with severe autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Cyxone’s development portfolio consists of several drug candidates, one of which is in clinical phase II program and the other has successfully completed phase I infusion study. The company’s strategy is to continuously develop in order to maximize the opportunities within autoimmune diseases with the existing portfolio and is potentially open for in-licensing of other suitable substances.
The first documented observation on a pharmaceutical effect of a cyclotide was made by the Norwegian doctor Lorents Gran, in 1960 in Congo, Africa, but it is believed to have been featured in traditional medicine for much longer than that. Gran found that African women used a pharmaceutical tea made of the plant leaves of oldenlandia affinis to induce and ease labor.
Cyclotides are considered to be an ideal “template” to develop novel drugs because of their good oral availability, excellent biological stability and for the high number of new structures that can be created. Cyclotides can potentially become a new class of highly specific, low toxicity drugs for several immune-related diseases and cancers. Cyclotides may be changed, while the original cyclotide structure is kept, in order to develop new substances with interesting pharmaceutical characteristics for selected diseases. This provides Cyxone with a great opportunity to build a diversified product portfolio over time.
Diseases that may be treated by cyclotide drugs include severe autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthrosis and multiple sclerosis, as well as various forms of cancer and organ rejection.
Thought-through portfolio strategy – Acquisition of Rabeximod
Cyxone was founded with a long-term vision of establishing itself as a clinical phase company within autoimmune diseases with a world class portfolio. The risk-minimizing strategy ensures not only continuous development of the company’s value, but also strengthens the negotiation opportunities with potential partners. The work reached its peak in 2017, when Cyxone entered an acquisition agreement with OxyPharma over the drug candidate Rabeximod in clinical phase II for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The deal included an arrangement that the company could choose to decide when the transaction would be completed, and payment paid under specific conditions, which took place in June 2018. Rabeximod belongs to a new class of molecules that have shown a statistically significant therapeutic effect in a placebo-controlled phase II study within RA, which included more than 200 patients. The acquisition of the candidate meant a great organizational change of the company, which went from a pre-clinical company to a company in clinical development phase with several candidates within autoimmune diseases. The acquisition of Rabeximod is, therefore, one of the most important milestones for Cyxone since its foundation.
Autoimmune diseases include many serious chronic conditions for which there is still no cure. The diseases are characterized by the immune system suddenly attacking healthy and harmless tissues in the body, and the underlying factors are believed to be a combination of genes and external environmental factors. However, scientists have not yet identified how and why autoimmune diseases occur. Scientists have, in later years, noted a global increase in the number of affected people, which strengthens the hypothesis of external factors such as western eating habits, increased pollutions and higher stress levels may trigger an autoimmune disease.1 The medicines of today may reduce disease symptoms but are often associated with serious side effects that limit long-term usage. Thus, there is a great need for new effective drugs with less severe and fewer side effects that, in best case can prevent autoimmune diseases, in order to give those affected better quality of life.
- Lerner, A. et al. The World Incidence and Prevalence of Autoimmune Diseases is Increasing. International Journal of Celiac Disease 2015;3(4):151-55.