aTyr Pharma, Inc. (Nasdaq: LIFE), a biotherapeutics company engaged in the discovery and development of innovative medicines based on novel immunological pathways, today recognized the collaboration between its Hong Kong subsidiary, Pangu BioPharma (Pangu), and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (HKUST) for contributions leading to the discovery of aTyr’s lead clinical candidate, ATYR1923, which is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1b/2a study in patients with pulmonary sarcoidosis. In a joint press conference, aTyr leadership, together with HKUST, recognized researchers from both organizations for their seminal basic and translational research leading to the discovery of extracellular signaling functions of tRNA synthetases.
HKUST researchers with support from Pangu were instrumental in discovering a splice variant of histidyl-tRNA synthetase (HARS) that liberates the smaller, active immuno-modulatory (iMod) domain from the full-length tRNA synthetase and has been shown to modulate the immune system. ATYR1923 is a fusion protein comprised of the iMod domain fused to the FC region of a human antibody. To date, researchers at HKUST have discovered over 200 novel compositions that are covered in issued patents and have published six articles detailing their research in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Dr. Sanjay SHUKLA, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of aTyr, said, “We are advancing our lead candidate ATYR1923 through clinical development in patients suffering from pulmonary sarcoidosis, a rare form of fibrotic lung disease with no known cure and of growing importance worldwide, including China. We are grateful to HKUST researchers for essential collaborative efforts that made this important milestone possible.”
Prof. ZHANG Mingjie, Chair Professor of the Division of Life Science and Kerry Holdings Professor of Science at HKUST and project coordinator of the Pangu collaboration, commented, “The important discoveries that continue to emerge from this collaboration between Pangu and HKUST serve as an excellent example of the potential role that Hong Kong’s translational science and early discovery capabilities can play in the development of potentially life-changing therapies for patients worldwide.”
Prof. Paul SCHIMMEL, Co-founder and Director of aTyr Pharma and Senior Visiting Fellow at HKUST’s Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), commented, “Our understanding of tRNA synthetase biology was greatly enhanced by the joint efforts of the research teams at aTyr and Pangu/HKUST. We see the potential to replicate this model with many of the novel forms of tRNA synthetases covered in our expansive and largely untapped intellectual property portfolio that includes more than 300 issued or pending patents covering both biologically active variants and engineered forms of human tRNA synthetases. Each of these protein compositions offers opportunities for potential development of therapeutics to treat a wide array of conditions.”