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Protagonist Therapeutics Receives SBIR Funding for Oral IL-23 Receptor Antagonists for Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Date:9/23/2015

MILPITAS, Calif., Sept. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Protagonist Therapeutics, Inc., a company developing novel, orally stable peptide therapeutics for gastrointestinal (GI) diseases and disorders, today announced receipt of a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health. This award, Number R43DK104445, will support research aimed at optimizing lead molecules in Protagonist's second pipeline program, focused on orally stable peptide antagonists of the interleukin-23 (IL-23) receptor as potential treatments for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Protagonist's research has shown that orally stable, GI-restricted drugs discovered using the company's peptide technology platform are efficacious in rodent models of colitis. This award furthers the company's efforts to translate these proof-of-concept early research findings into a potential human therapeutic that is orally delivered at high drug levels in diseased intestinal tissue with very limited drug concentrations in systemic circulation.

"We are very pleased to receive this grant, which provides further validation of the strong potential offered by our technology platform for the creation of novel, orally stable peptide drugs. Through this award, the reviewers also recognize the considerable benefit which could be provided for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease through a first-in-class therapeutic targeting the IL-23/Th17 pathway," said David Y. Liu, Ph.D., Protagonist Chief Scientific Officer. "The SBIR program at NIH plays a vital role in helping companies develop new technology and products that serve important U.S. health care needs."

Researchers have clearly elucidated the role of IL-23/Th17 pathway in chronic intestinal inflammation. IL-23 is produced locally in the intestine and the upregulation of IL-23 and its receptor has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many chronic inflammatory disorders including IBD.

"Since IBD represents local inflammation of the intestinal tissue, an ideal therapeutic would act within the confines of the intestine for enhanced efficacy while minimizing systemic bioavailability for enhanced safety. A drug with these characteristics would have the potential to transform the treatment of IBD by providing safe, effective and durable therapy for chronic treatment," said Dinesh Patel, Ph.D., Protagonist President and Chief Executive Officer. "This award will help us develop a new oral asset for IBD stemming from Protagonist's proprietary technology platform that acts specifically to inhibit the IL23/Th17 pathway. In the long run, it is critical to develop safe and effective drugs working through different mechanisms to serve unmet medical needs for chronic illnesses like IBD."

The content of this press release is solely the views of its authors and does not represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

About Protagonist Therapeutics

Protagonist Therapeutics is a U.S.-incorporated biotechnology company engaged in the discovery and development of orally stable peptides as targeted therapy for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and other gastrointestinal diseases and disorders. The company has an innovative and proprietary technology platform that enables it to develop potent and orally stable peptides against protein-protein interaction (PPI) targets that are otherwise undruggable by small molecules and therefore have historically been approached largely by injectable antibodies. Oral peptides may lead to a superior and safer choice for IBD patients, physicians, and payers by virtue of their better convenience and compliance, and potentially enhanced safety and efficacy in comparison to other therapeutic options. The company is nearing the completion of IND-enabling studies of an alpha-4-beta-7 integrin-specific oral peptide antagonist PTG-100, and has several other assets including the oral IL-23 receptor antagonist in different stages of research and pre-clinical development.

Protagonist is headquartered in Milpitas, California USA and is a spin-out from the University of Queensland's Institute of Molecular Biosciences (IMB).  The company has its pre-clinical and clinical operations in California, and discovery operations both in California and in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. For further information, please visit http://www.protagonist-inc.com.

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