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SAN DIEGO, Oct. 22, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- aTyr Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: LIFE), a biotherapeutics company engaged in the discovery and development of innovative medicines based on novel immunological pathways, today announced that the company has entered into a research collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Diane Bielenberg, Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and a Research Associate in the Vascular Biology Program at Boston Children’s, will serve as the principal investigator for the collaboration. Dr. Bielenberg is an expert in the field of neuropilin-2 (NRP2) biology and conducts research related to growth factor receptors involved in vascular and smooth muscle biology. The collaboration will investigate the therapeutic efficacy of anti-NRP2 antibodies in a potentially new therapeutic role, the regulation of visceral smooth muscle contractility. Specifically, the ability of anti-NRP2 antibodies to prevent, inhibit or reverse smooth muscle decompensation in mouse models.
“This collaboration with Dr. Bielenberg is very consistent with our strategy of partnering with academia in the further exploration of NRP2 and its underlying role in human disease,” said Dr. Sanjay Shukla, President and Chief Executive Officer of aTyr. “This potential new indication in visceral smooth muscle identified by Drs. Diane Bielenberg and Rosalyn Adam at Boston Children’s aligns with our view that NRP2 inhibition can have broad utility across many disease indications. We look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership.”
Hollow organs, such as the bladder or gastrointestinal (GI) tract, function to expel waste products via the action of smooth muscle contraction. Aberrant pressure, especially in the bladder, can initiate hypertrophy of the bladder wall and lead to inflammation and fibrosis with eventual decompensation in smooth muscle, increased pressure transmitted to the kidneys, and pathological renal damage.
“The ability of NRP2 to promote smooth muscle relaxation, along with its robust expression in hollow organs, implies that this axis could be exploited for therapeutic benefit in conditions characterized by inappropriate smooth muscle contractility,” noted Dr. Bielenberg. “These include bladder conditions, such as urinary incontinence, as well as GI tract motility disorders, such as intestinal pseudo-obstruction and paralytic ileus. Current treatments for such diseases can have significant side effects and limited efficacy, therefore we are eager to explore new therapeutic options with the aTyr Pharma team.”
Biography: Dr. Bielenberg received a full scholarship to attend the University of Northern Iowa and graduated with a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in Biology. She was awarded an NCI Cancer Immunobiology Training Grant and earned her Ph.D. in Cancer Biology from the University of Texas Health Science Center and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Bielenberg was awarded an American Cancer Society Fellowship and performed her postdoctoral research studies at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital. As an independent Principal Investigator, Dr. Bielenberg has been funded by the NCI, NIDDK, NEI, and NHLBI with 89 publications to date.
aTyr is a biotherapeutics company engaged in the discovery and development of innovative medicines based on novel immunological pathways. aTyr’s research and development efforts are concentrated on a newly discovered area of biology, the extracellular functionality of tRNA synthetases. aTyr has built a global intellectual property estate directed to a potential pipeline of protein compositions derived from 20 tRNA synthetase genes. aTyr is focused on the therapeutic translation of the Resokine pathway, comprised of extracellular proteins derived from the histidyl tRNA synthetase gene family. ATYR1923 is a clinical-stage product candidate which binds to the neuropilin-2 receptor and is designed to down-regulate immune engagement in interstitial lung diseases and other immune-mediated diseases. For more information, please visit http://www.atyrpharma.com.
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Managing Director, LifeSci Advisors, LLC