Aviara Pharmaceuticals, Inc receives grant to collaborate with the Texas Heart Institute


Texas Collaboration to Develop Treatment for Inflammatory Disease


Credit: Photo Credit: Texas Heart Institute

Aviara Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held development-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on small-molecule integrin antagonists that enhance the effectiveness of cell therapies and treat inflammatory diseases, announced today that it has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The company will collaborate with the Texas Heart Institute (THI) on promising research. The funding was made under Award no. R41DK127869, entitled “Selective Targeting of High-Affinity Integrins as a Safe Treatment Strategy for IBD”, to develop a small molecule drug that targets inflammatory cell trafficking to the gut as a safe alternative to current treatments strategies in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

IBD, which mainly comprises Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, affects more than 3 million people in the US and is characterized by a chronic non-resolving inflammatory response in the intestinal mucosa. There are no cures, and in most cases, lifelong treatment is required. Current treatment strategies are either associated with significant safety concerns, like the development of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), or are associated with high numbers of primary and secondary non-responders to therapy. The goal of the Aviara program funded by this Phase I NIDDK grant is to develop a transformative drug for IBD, that is not a biologic but rather a small molecule administered orally and is devoid of safety concerns.

The company is working to develop such a drug, specifically a dual antagonist of α4β1 and α4β7 integrins, that is devoid of the safety concerns surrounding PML. “I am excited that Aviara has received this well-deserved funding for its program for developing novel therapies for IBD. I look forward to working with them on the development of novel antagonists that target receptors involved in inflammation, which may offer better long-term prognosis and improved risk-benefit profiles than those currently in use,” said Darren Woodside, Ph.D., Vice President for Research at THI.

NIDDK funding will support early-stage pre-clinical studies to demonstrate safety, efficacy, and pharmacokinetics in cellular and animal models. “The support from NIDDK will enable Aviara to apply its proprietary approach to the development of antagonists of integrin targets and allow it to progress toward submission of an IND for testing in IBD patients in the future,” said George Holland, Ph.D., President of Aviara Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


The funding was made under Award no. R41DK127869, entitled “Selective Targeting of High-Affinity α4 Integrins as a Safe Treatment Strategy for IBD”. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


Aviara Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a development-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on small-molecule pharmaceuticals that enhance the effectiveness of cell therapies and treat inflammatory diseases. Aviara is developing a portfolio of first-in-class and best-in-class small-molecule integrin antagonists directed against targets involved in the modulation of cell therapies and inflammatory diseases, such as hematopoietic stem cell mobilization, minimal residual disease in cancer, cardiac stem cell transplant, dry eye disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. Learn more about Aviara at http://www.aviarapharma.com.


The Texas Heart Institute, founded by world-renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Denton A. Cooley in 1962, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastating toll of cardiovascular disease through innovative and progressive programs in research, education, and improved patient care. THI’s scientists and physicians conduct fundamental biomedical, translational, and clinical research in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, molecular-based medicine, stem cell, and gene therapy, and regenerative medicine both independently and in collaboration with organizations worldwide. As global leaders of patient care for nearly six decades, Texas Heart Institute has been ranked among the top cardiovascular centers in the United States by U.S. News & World Report for the past 30 years. THI is dedicated to spreading awareness and sharing updates on ways to prevent, treat, and defeat cardiovascular disease. With over 10 million visitors coming to its website from around the world every year, http://www.texasheart.org is just one of the ways THI is helping to educate people on the importance of heart health. For more information, please visit http://www.texasheart.org

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