Swedish life science company Aqilion has acquired all rights to Regulus, a Phase I-ready anti-inflammatory program, from Denmark-headquartered dermatology specialist LEO Pharma, which developed the project from early internal discovery research.
Under the terms of the agreement, Aqilion will make an upfront payment that is a combination of cash and equity and LEO Pharma will become a shareholder of Aqilion. Furthermore, Aqilion will make additional payments from either product sales or through out-licensing revenues.
Regulus is a novel next-generation selective JAK1 inhibitor previously developed as LEO 142397, now, now dubbed AQ280. Drugs with a similar mechanism of action have shown clinical efficacy in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Aqilion will initially investigate AQ280 as a potential therapy for eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory disease of the esophagus. To date, no drugs with the same mechanism of action have been developed for EoE and there is a high unmet medical need. Aqilion will conduct the Regulus project in-house with the aim of starting a Phase I safety study in healthy volunteers in 2022, followed by a Phase IIa study in patients.