Edmonton biopharm Isotechnika Inc. says it is developing a second drug with the potential to complement its lead drug in treating organ-transplant rejection.
The action mechanism of TAFA93 is distinct from ISA247, Isotechnika’s lead drug. TAFA93 is an mTOR inhibitor, which is a class of transplant drugs that act at a different stage in the immune response than calcineurin inhibitors, such as ISA247.
mTOR inhibitors are typically used in combination with calcineurin inhibitors. However, the side-effects of this class of drugs currently limit its broader use in transplantation and treating autoimmune diseases.
The company said preclinical tests show TAFA93 to be as effective as current mTOR drugs, but without their common side-effects.
Company president Randy Yatscoff said Isotechnika’s goal is to move the drug forward as fast as possible using its own resources. Isotechnika is jointly developing ISA247 with Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche.
The new development was announced at Isotechnika’s annual general meeting last week in Toronto. At the AGM, the company withdrew its controversial stock-option plan for executives in response to shareholder pressure.
“In the view of our owners, this plan was not in keeping with current market conditions and expectations,” said Robert Foster, chairman and CEO. “Although the company had sufficient votes to pass this resolution by a wide margin, we respect the position of our shareholders . . . and have acted accordingly.”
However, shareholders at the meeting approved an employee stock-option plan that reserves an additional 1.5 million common shares, amounting to 2.3 per cent of the total outstanding, for employees who aren’t executives or officers of the firm.