Poolbeg Pharma wants to use key flu medication to treat cancer

16 Jan 2023

Poolbeg Pharma CEO Jeremy Skillington. Image: Poolbeg

POLB 001, a treatment for severe influenza developed by Poolbeg, has the potential to address life-threatening side effects in the treatment of cancer.

Poolbeg Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company that focuses on infectious diseases, has filed a patent for one of its therapies to be used in cancer treatments.

The London-based Irish company announced today (16 January) that while investigating the role of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) in severe influenza, it discovered data specific to the overt immune response in CAR T cell patients that suggest POLB 001 as a potential treatment.

POLB 001 is Poolbeg’s treatment for severe influenza and the latest patent, if approved, will allow the company to use POLB 001 to address the impact of CRS in CAR T cell patients.

CAR T cell therapies are a form of immunotherapy for cancer that have produced promising results across a range of haematological malignancies, such as in cases where previous therapies have failed for patients with advanced leukaemia and lymphoma.

Poolbeg said that a significant number of patients suffer treatment-related side effects, including CRS, which in severe cases can be life threatening. The company said that cell therapies may induce these effects in up to 95pc of patients.

“Hyperinflammation as a driver of disease severity in influenza is also fundamental to CRS, which can severely complicate CAR T cell therapy of patients with blood cancers,” said Prof Brendan Buckley, a member of Poolbeg’s scientific advisory board.

“By reducing runaway inflammation associated with CRS, POLB 001 has the potential to significantly reduce the serious adverse effects that many CAR T cell patients suffer.”

According to Buckley, the use of cell therapies to treat cancer is predicted to expand significantly over the coming years – with the CAR T cell market expected to grow to an estimated $6bn by 2031.

“With oncology clinical trial enabling activities for POLB 001 underway, we look forward to updating the market as to the progress of this exciting programme,” he added.

The company hopes to progress towards trial initiation in CAR T cell patients in 2024. Further oncology-related data, regulatory feedback and non-clinical development updates are expected this year.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic