Symic Biomedical, a clinical-stage biotherapeutics company developing multiple compounds that target and affect the extracellular matrix (ECM), today announced the selection of SB-061 as the company’s first osteoarthritis clinical candidate. In preclinical studies, SB-061 was shown to reduce pain and cartilage degradation in models of osteoarthritis. SB-061, which will be administered as an intra-articular injection, is designed to prevent the degradation of cartilage by mimicking the protective effect of the proteoglycan aggrecan.
“Today, there are no treatments available for the underlying structural progression of osteoarthritis, a disease that affects approximately 30 million Americans,” said Ken Horne, Chief Executive Officer of Symic Biomedical. “Current options for managing the symptoms of osteoarthritis are only palliative, whereas we believe that SB-061 has the potential to both address pain and to modify the disease itself. Symic expects to enter the clinic with SB-061 in the second quarter of 2016.”
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage in the joint degrades over time. Within cartilage, which is primarily comprised of ECM, aggrecan is the dominant proteoglycan, playing an important role in cartilage structure. For patients with osteoarthritis, aggrecan is lost leading to the degradation of the ECM itself and chronic inflammation of the joint. Available options for the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis are oral agents (acetaminophen, NSAIDs) and intra-articular agents (steroids for limited use, viscosupplementation). Ultimately, patients may resort to total joint replacement, which resulted in an estimated $28.5 billion in hospital expenditures in the U.S. in 2009, according to the CDC1. In contrast, SB-061 mimics aggrecan and binds to the cartilage ECM to protect the remaining cartilage from further degradation, which may ultimately lead to disease modification.