Landos Biopharma’s promising anti-inflammation drug moves into Phase II trials

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Landos Biopharma CEO Josep Bassaganya-Riera.
Courtesy Landos Biopharma Inc.

With $60 million of financing from a group of investors announced in August, Blacksburg-based Landos Biopharma has moved into Phase II trials of a drug that may dramatically change the lives of people suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Landos chairman and CEO Josep Bassaganya-Riera, director of Virginia Tech’s Nutritional Immunology and Molecular Medicine Laboratory, says BT-11 could be on the market by 2023.

“To develop a drug in the U.S., it takes about $2 [billion] to $3 billion. Sometimes it takes 10, 15 years,” Bassaganya-Riera says. “BT-11 has been very accelerated.”

Landos was founded in 2017. BT-11 completed Phase I trials, in which the drug was administered to healthy subjects to prove it is safe, within 18 months of its development. Phase II involves 195 subjects and should produce results next year. Phase III trials, testing the drug in a larger group of subjects, must follow before Landos can apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for final approval.

Most people treated for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — inflammatory bowel diseases with no known cure — receive injections or infusions that suppress patients’ immune systems to reduce inflammation. BT-11, in part because it is taken orally, targets specific inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and doesn’t have the same broad effect on patients’ immune systems, which can leave them vulnerable to other illnesses, Bassaganya-Riera says.

The process behind BT-11’s testing is nearly as innovative as the drug itself.

Using computer models, researchers simulate experiments before they conduct experiments in the real world, eliminating a lot of trial and error.

Bassaganya-Riera, the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council’s 2017 Innovator of the Year, describes himself as a serial entrepreneur. He is president and CEO of two other companies: BioTherapeutics, a nutraceutical business, and Pervida, a group of beverages that are advertised as having digestive and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Landos also has other drugs in various stages of development targeting lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and type I diabetes.

“We are very excited about BT-11,” he says. “It’s the first drug we’ve brought forward. However, Landos is not a one-trick pony.”

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