Almirall and Inserm Transfert Collaborate to Develop Innovative Treatments for Vitiligo

Almirall and Inserm Transfert Collaborate to Develop Innovative Treatments for Vitiligo image

Almirall, S.A. and Inserm Transfert, the private subsidiary of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm), have entered into a licensing agreement and research collaboration to advance treatment options for vitiligo. The partnership, signed by Inserm Transfert, on behalf of Inserm, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire of Nice and University of Nice Côte d’Azur, will focus on identifying and developing a novel class of medicines that modulate the Wnt pathway, a key target involved in skin repigmentation.

Vitiligo affects 0.5 to 2% of the worldwide population and is associated with a loss of pigmentation. For patients, the visibility of the lesions is perceived as disfiguring and burdensome. Consequently, there is a high level of psychological burden, as well as treatment needs. Despite this, the condition is an underserved market with high unmet medical need for differentiated products with novel mechanisms of action, especially to treat some resistant locations that are frequently involved such as the hands. 

Through this partnership, the knowledge of Prof. Thierry Passeron’s team at the Mediterranean Centre for Molecular Medicine (C3M  -Inserm U1065- University of Nice Côte d’Azur), who has been at the forefront of research in vitiligo, will be combined with Almirall's expertise in drug discovery to identify and develop new topical compounds for the treatment of the condition. Almirall has also been granted global rights to Inserm’s background patents on the use of Wnt agonists in the treatment of vitiligo.

“Vitiligo can have a huge impact on patients' quality of life. We are pleased to announce this new collaboration with a centre of excellence such as Inserm to develop innovative treatments for this skin condition. This milestone once again demonstrates Almirall's commitment to improving the lives of patients in an underserved disease where there are still significant unmet needs," says Karl Ziegelbauer, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Almirall, in a news release.

“The collaboration with Prof. Passeron’s group is a prime example of Almirall’s desire to collaborate with academic centres of excellence to advance research into areas of significant unmet need. Building on the expertise of Almirall´s external Innovation & Licensing team, we are perfectly positioned to tap into an increasingly innovative and collaborative environment in Europe, as demonstrated by Inserm Transfert in France”, addsVolker Koscielny, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Almirall.

“It is mandatory to induce the differentiation and the proliferation of melanocyte stem cells for promoting the repigmentation of the lesions. The Wnt signaling pathway is key in this process and we demonstrated that this pathway is significantly altered in vitiligo skin”, explained Prof. Thierry Passeron, MD, PhD, Professor of Dermatology at University Hospital of Nice and Laboratory Head at Inserm, Nice. “This partnership will allow developing topical compounds to stimulate this pathway and to repigment vitiligo lesions. This approach is innovative and unique, and should allow repigmenting vitiligo lesions, including in classical resistant areas”, added Prof. Passeron.

The partnership with Inserm Transfert is part of SHINE, an initiative launched by Almirall that aims to boost innovation in dermatology by promoting collaborations with centres of excellence such as those recently announced with the University of Dundee and the University of Michigan. This project also allows for a deeper understanding of dermatological diseases, access to new technologies and the discovery of innovative therapeutic approaches.

This initiative is a further demonstration of Almirall's commitment to science excellence and collaboration with the scientific community to provide new potential solutions in key therapeutic areas. The project creates substantial value for Almirall by enriching the R&D portfolio with innovative projects and indication expansion, increasing the quality and speed of R&D execution.

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