Cambrian Unveils Latest Longevity Pipeline Company: Isterian

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Multi-asset firm Cambrian Biopharma announced Thursday that its latest pipeline company, Isterian Biotech, has emerged from stealth to develop first-in-class medicines to tackle aging. 

Isterian’s science is focused on a protein called transglutaminase 2 (TG2), a major cross-linking enzyme that connects different molecules across the extracellular matrix. These cross-linked proteins become structurally more complex and are difficult for the body to break down. 

Eventually, as they accumulate pathologically, cross-linked proteins could lead to organ dysfunction and other aging-related diseases, such as fibrosis. TG2 activity increases pathologically with age, making it a promising therapeutic target in the longevity space. 

Formed in 2019 under a partnership between Cambrian and Aston University, Isterian’s goal is to advance novel drugs that can arrest and potentially reverse the build-up of cross-linked proteins and extend patients’ healthy lifespans. The company uses a proprietary computer-aided drug design platform to identify novel, new-generation small molecule inhibitors of TG2. These drug candidates are then tested using a robust screening cascade. 

In a statement, Georg Terstappen, Ph.D., Isterian’s president and chairman of the board, said that this “rational drug design” approach, combined with “efficient multiparametric profiling of synthesized small molecules,” is the core of the company’s development strategy and has been “highly productive.”

Isterian currently has two candidates, IST-01 and IST-02, for inhaled administration. The company’s molecules are preclinical studies for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive and often fatal disease characterized by an overabundance of TG2 cross-linked proteins in the lungs.

According to Terstappen, one of the company’s highly selective investigational TG2 inhibitors has shown promising activity in a mouse model of lung fibrosis “for the first time.”

Led by Industry Leaders

Joining Terstappen at the helm of Isterian is Martin Griffin, Ph.D., the company’s scientific founder. The longevity start-up is founded on more than 35 years of scientific research from Griffin’s lab at Aston University. Griffin’s expertise includes tumor progression, fibrosis, wound healing and angiogenesis.

Isterian’s other scientific founders are Vivian Wang, Ph.D., an expert in the physiological and pathological roles of TG2; Dan Rathbone, Ph.D., who has extensive experience in pharmaceutical chemistry and drug design; and Vass Sriram, Ph.D., Cambrian’s director of extracellular matrix research. 

Wang and Rathbone are also with Aston University, while Sriram was previously a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School.

Other Isterian leaders include Dennis Yamashita, Ph.D., chemistry lead, Claire O’Brien, senior director of R&D project management, Wenjie Luo, senior business operations manager and Andrew Ratcliffe, Ph.D., medicinal chemistry consultant. 

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