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HitGen and BioAge progress drug discovery collaboration

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Companies announce research progress in DNA-encoded library-based drug discovery research collaboration.

Shanghai Stock Exchange-listed biotech HitGen, Inc announced important research progress in a collaboration with BioAge Labs, Inc yesterday. BioAge is a private clinical-stage biotech developing targeted small molecules for the treatment of diseases of aging with an exciting longevity drug discovery track record so far.

Longevity.Technology: To date, BioAge has raised $127M from Andreessen Horowitz, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and others, and continues to build on its earlier successes; in early 2021, BioAge initiated Phase 2 clinical trials of two in-licensed drugs. BGE-117, a potent inhibitor of HIF PH, is being tested for unexplained anaemia of aging, and will be developed for indications related to muscle weakness, and BGE-175, a PGD2 DP1 receptor inhibitor, is being tested for COVID-19 and will be developed for disorders of the aging immune system.

BioAge is developing a pipeline of treatments to extend healthy lifespan by targeting the molecular causes of aging. The company uses its discovery platform, which combines quantitative analysis of proprietary longitudinal human samples with detailed health records tracking individuals over the lifespan, to map out the key molecular pathways that impact healthy human aging.

HitGen specialises in the development and applications of DNA encoded library (DEL) screening; the company is headquartered in Chengdu, China, and has subsidiaries in Houston, Texas (HitGen Pharmaceuticals) and Cambridge, UK (Vernalis R&D Ltd). The availability of over 1 trillion small molecules generated by DEL technology and the efficiency of the screening process have made it possible for HitGen to enable drug discovery projects for various organisations. Through its acquisition of Vernalis, HitGen now has a research team of over 500 scientists and offers a full set of research capabilities to enable drug discovery research from target gene to IND filing.

The companies have conducted collaborative research to identify and develop novel small-molecule compounds against a challenging biological target that is a critical component of the innate immune system. Dysregulation of this target is closely linked to the underlying cause of severe diseases in elderly humans, such as Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.

Kristen Fortney, PhD, BioAge’s Chief Executive Officer
Kristen Fortney, PhD, BioAge’s Chief Executive Officer

According to the terms of the collaboration agreement, HitGen has successfully applied its DEL technology and discovered compounds that meet necessary criteria; BioAge has received an exclusive licence for these compounds, as well as associated IP for further development and commercialisation. HitGen will be eligible for milestone payments and sublicensing income from BioAge as the project progresses, in addition to research payments and an upfront licence fee already paid.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with HitGen to find novel small-molecules against drug targets identified by BioAge’s platform, which analyzes samples collected over the lifespan to map the molecular pathways that drive human aging,” said Kristen Fortney, PhD, BioAge’s Chief Executive Officer. ”HitGen’s DEL technology allows BioAge to discover novel, patentable molecules that modulate key aging pathways [1].”

“We are enthusiastic about having the ability to identify promising hit molecules in such a short time.” said Paul Rubin, CMO and EVP Research and Development at BioAge. “These earlier-stage discovery programs will complement and accelerate our parallel in-licensing efforts, allowing us to build an extensive portfolio of clinical-stage assets that target the molecular mechanisms of aging to treat severe diseases and extend healthy human life [1].”

“I am delighted to see the successful identification of novel compounds for this important biological target that BioAge has been pursuing,” said Dr Jin Li, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of HitGen. “This research progress is made possible by the close interaction and collaboration of the scientists from the two companies. It also reinforces the role and reputation of HitGen’s platform in the rapidly developing field of DEL and its ability to discover novel small molecules against a variety of targets. We look forward to seeing BioAge research progress further in bringing transformative medicines to patients [1].”

[1] http://www.hitgen.com/enxiandao/index.php?s=/Home/Article/detail/id/548.html

Image courtesy of BioAge Labs

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Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.
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