SAN DIEGO and WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- aTyr Pharma, an innovator in immune-modulating protein therapeutics, announced today their presentation at the 2012 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) / Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals (ARHP) Annual Meeting, which is being held November 9-14 in Washington, D.C. The presentation provides an in-depth molecular characterization of Jo-1 antibodies, which occur as part of a rare, human autoimmune response to histidyl tRNA synthetase (HARS) in inflammatory myopathy (IM, also known as myositis or myopathy) and interstitial lung disease (ILD). aTyr's data provide unique and essential insight for developing novel therapies for IM/ILD patients.
"Patients with inflammatory myopathy and interstitial lung disease have progressive and debilitating conditions of muscle and lung that are often fatal and for which no specific drugs are approved," said John Mendlein, Ph.D., CEO and executive chairman of aTyr Pharma. "The combination of these conditions has very poor prognosis and affects about 30,000 patients in the United States. In order to develop life-changing therapies for these people, we have developed a detailed molecular view about this rare autoimmunity and the molecular drivers for inflammatory myopathy and interstitial lung disease."
Jo-1 antibodies directed against HARS are detected in a high proportion of patients around the world who suffer from IM/ILD. aTyr has developed a comprehensive data set using assays with greater sensitivity and detection range compared to available commercial assays and an extensive epitope map from a number of IM and ILD patients. Using the recently determined 3-D structure of human HARS, aTyr has shown that Jo-1 antibodies from patients recognized epitopes across a number of HARS protein regions.
"Our understanding of Jo-1 antibodies and histidyl tRNA synthetases will help elucidate the role of aminoacyl tRNA synthetases in health and disease, as well as enable us to develop unique and rational therapeutic interventions," said Dr. Mendlein. "Current therapy for many of these patients is unsatisfactory, consisting primarily of non-specific immune suppressants and anti-inflammatory drugs with little improvement in mortality and serious side effect profiles."
HARS is part of the ancient gene family of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRS), which has been known for decades to function intracellularly in protein synthesis. More recent scientific findings by aTyr and others show that aaRS and the spliced or cleaved small protein derivatives, called Physiocrines, perform additional functions beyond protein synthesis, including modulating and maintaining tissue physiology and homeostasis. aTyr has demonstrated that aaRS and Physiocrines possess immunoregulatory activities that are relevant to treating human disease and may provide new therapeutic intervention points.
Dr. Mendlein continued, "Our discoveries, along with the work of Dr. Paul Schimmel's laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute, show that aaRS and Physiocrines play fundamental roles in the function of human physiology and immunology, thereby opening up an untapped source of new protein therapeutics. With our deep understanding of Physiocrine biology, we are committed to discovering and developing highly-effective therapeutics that provide new treatment options for patients with autoimmune diseases."
Kyle Chiang, Ph.D. will be presenting abstract #1671 entitled "Characterization of Jo-1 Autoantibodies in Patients with Inflammatory Myopathy and Interstitial Lung Disease," on Monday, November 12 at 4:45 p.m. EST in room 202B in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Physiocrines are produced from ancient genes, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases, which are an intercellular gene family involved in protein synthesis. Overlooked by genomic discovery efforts, Physiocrines are naturally occurring proteins that modulate extracellular signaling pathways in a variety of physiological processes. These endogenous human proteins act through a variety of receptor classes via mechanisms distinct from current pharmaceuticals and have potential applications in a number of therapeutic areas. aTyr is focused on using Physiocrines to generate effective therapeutics for immune system disorders.
About aTyr Pharma
aTyr Pharma is developing protein therapeutics based on Physiocrine biology. aTyr has established a dominant intellectual property estate surrounding Physiocrine-based compositions and potential therapeutic applications. aTyr's lead programs are focused on immunomodulation disorders in the areas of inflammation and immunity. The privately held biotech was founded by Professor Paul Schimmel, a leading aminoacyl tRNA synthetase scientist at The Scripps Research Institute, and is backed by top life sciences, including investors Alta Partners, Cardinal Partners, Domain Associates and Polaris Ventures. For more information, please visit http://www.atyrpharma.com.
SOURCE aTyr Pharma