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24 July, 2020 - 13:05 By Tony Quested

Sareum lifted by autoimmune disease progress

Cambridge drug development business Sareum Holdings has started to gain traction with a potential treatment for the autoimmune disease lupus.

Encouraging results from a study spearheaded by collaborator SRI International could have a bonus outcome. The results could also influence treatments of other autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and psoriasis, Sareum reveals.

Quoted on the AIM market in the UK, Sareum shares have been bumping along the bottom but have begun to stir on the back of positive progress.

The lupus study results are especially significant because they were supported by a research grant from the US Department of Defense.

The authors concluded that an approach using Sareum’s selective TYK2/JAK1 inhibitors may lead to the development of a therapy for lupus that does not involve the harmful side effects of systemic immune system suppression and may benefit numerous lupus patients in need of new options. 

CEO Dr Tim Mitchell said: “These data from studies using our small molecule TYK2/JAK1 inhibitors add to the body of evidence supporting this novel mechanism of action as a promising approach to treating autoimmune diseases such as SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus). 

“Our own studies have also confirmed this potential in autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis and we are delighted that this work indicates a possible application in lupus, which remains a condition with high unmet medical need. 

“This approach has also been recognised more broadly in the industry with several molecules targeting this pathway advancing through development. We look forward to reporting further progress as we advance our TYK2/JAK1 candidates through preclinical development.”

Sareum entered into a co-development agreement with SRI International – based in Menlo Park in California – in April 2013 to develop TYK2 inhibitors in autoimmune diseases. Sareum retains commercialisation rights for these and other TYK2 inhibitors with profiles optimised for oncology indications.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks healthy tissue in many parts of the body. Common symptoms include painful and swollen joints, fever, chest pain, hair loss, mouth ulcers, swollen lymph nodes, feeling tired and a red rash, which is most commonly on the face. Lupus significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease with this being the most common cause of death. 

The Lupus Foundation of America estimates that at least five million people worldwide have a form of lupus, with SLE accounting for 70 per cent of all cases. 

The rate of SLE in developed countries ranges from 20 to 70 per 100,000. Women aged between 15 and 45 are affected around nine times more often than men.

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