Abrax Japan Announces License Agreement with the University of Pennsylvania

Abrax Japan (Tokyo, Japan) announced that the company has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA, USA) for certain Penn-owned inventions relating to the therapeutic effects of thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP) developed by company co-founder Dr. Taku Kambayashi, an Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”).

Under the terms of the agreement, Abrax Japan has secured exclusive global rights to these intellectual property assets for two specific fields of use: i) treatment and/or prevention of skin and scalp ailments and disorders, including, but not limited to eczema, alopecia, dry skin, aging skin, acne, and ichthyoses; and ii) treatment and/or prevention of lipid metabolism disorders, including, but not limited to hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and obesity.

Dr. Kambayashi previously discovered that over-expression of TSLP in obese mice can selectively induce reduction in white adipose tissue. Excessive accumulation of white adipose tissue is associated with increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. Accordingly, overexpression of TSLP in obese mice decreased their triglycerides and improved blood glucose and fasting insulin levels. It was found that the selective loss of white adipose tissue occurred through increased secretion of sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin for skin barrier function. Dr. Kambayashi’s pioneering discovery was published in the journal Science and later featured in Nature Reviews Immunology.

Jo Narita, Co-Founder and CEO, explains the significance of the company’s license agreement with Penn. “We are truly excited about the global exclusive license agreement and continued partnership with the University of Pennsylvania. Since establishing Abrax Japan in 2020, we have been striving to help translate Dr. Kambayashi’s discovery into a clinical reality. We will take a major step forward by starting a First-in-Human clinical trial for atopic dermatitis indication early next year in Australia. Everyone at Abrax is dedicated to developing innovative products that could improve the quality of life for tens of millions of patients around the globe.”

Building upon foundational discoveries emerging from Dr. Kambayashi’s research program, Abrax is developing its first product candidate, ABX-919, for treatment of atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition with a wide spectrum of clinical presentations and combinations of symptoms that can affect the quality of life of patients. Almost 25% of children and 2 to 3% of adults in the general population are affected by this disease. Clinical manifestations include intense pruritus, erythema, skin dryness, oozing and crust formation; the main symptom is pruritus and appears early in life and often precedes allergic disease such as asthma. Current treatment is based on lifestyle modifications to reduce exposure to environmental stimuli and allergens, skin hydration and local control of itching. In addition, multiple therapies are used in AD and include topical anti‑inflammatory treatment (corticosteroids), calcineurin inhibitors (pimecrolimus, tacrolimus, and crisaborole), and oral antihistamine therapy. Safety of these products for use in children and adolescents has been of concern for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

ABX-919 is a quick-drying sprayable topical product, which can be easily applied. Unlike other conventional AD treatments, ABX-919 is applied to the healthy part of the skin, not the lesions, with the hope that it will promote sebum secretion and regulatory T cell upregulation. Sebum secretion creates a desirable natural skin barrier function helping to improve the conditions of atopic dermatitis patients. Besides the initial target of atopic dermatitis, Abrax plans to further translate the broad implications of Dr. Kambayashi’s foundational discoveries and further develop clinical applications in other indications such as hypertriglyceridemia, androgenic alopecia, and dry eye.

About ABX-919

ABX-919 is a newly reformulated and repurposed drug adapted from a commercially approved product for its use on psoriasis.  Abrax plans to use the 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway, under the FDA, for accelerated approval process. ABX-919 is specially formulated to be administered topically for treatment of atopic dermatitis.

About Abrax Japan

Abrax Japan was co-founded in Tokyo in 2020 by Dr. Taku Kambayashi and Jo Narita and is focusing on the continued translation and commercialization of certain discoveries made by Dr. Kambayashi at Penn.  To date, Abrax has raised US $5 million through seed funding from private investors and a venture capital firm to support these ongoing development activities.

For more information on this topic, you may contact Abrax Japan, Inc.