New therapeutic option for asthmatics in the making

Scientists have since long observed crystals in the airway mucus of asthmatics. These so-called Charcot-Leyden crystals are made up of the protein Galectin-10. However, the actual link between these crystals and the disease remained unknown. The research teams of Bart Lambrecht and Savvas Savvides (VIB-UGent) have established that the Charcot-Leyden crystals stimulate the immune system and induce key features of asthma, including the production of altered mucus, which poses a major problem for most asthmatics.

VIB teamed up with the Belgian biotech company argenx to develop antibodies that can dissolve these crystals, with the aim of reducing key asthma symptoms. argenx acquired rights to these ARGX-118 antibodies and will further develop the path from lead to clinical drug candidate.

The strategic collaboration between VIB and argenx has led to antibodies that reverse protein crystals present in the mucus plugs that contribute to asthma. Potentially these could be first-in-class therapeutic option to treat asthma and other chronic inflammatory diseases of the airways.