By: Andrew A Radin
CEO & Co-founder, Aria Pharmaceuticals
2021 was a year of growth and transformational change at Aria Pharmaceuticals. In recognition of our continued evolution, we announced a rebrand to a new name that reflects the artistry and complexity that defines how our company and scientific teams approach medicine, from discovery to clinical research to FDA approval, while always keeping the science our number one priority.
With that change came a fundamental shift in our trajectory as a pharmaceutical company. While we have enjoyed successful drug discovery collaborations in the past, we have also developed an extremely promising pipeline across more than a dozen therapeutic areas that is wholly proprietary to Aria. Bringing those drugs to the clinic will now be the bulk of our focus, along with discovering additional novel therapies for complex and hard to treat diseases. With that, I’m excited to announce that we recently filed two provisional patents for new chemical entities (NCE) in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). This is a big milestone for Aria and further demonstrates our commitment to bringing novel therapies to the market.
We also announced new positive data for four of those owned leads, two in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and two in chronic kidney disease. We have now shared positive safety and efficacy data in preclinical studies publicly across four therapeutic areas and are preparing to advance them towards clinical research. Our approach to speeding up the discovery of novel treatments is proving successful as demonstrated not only by a growing pipeline, but the speed and success in which we’re able to validate these leads in scientifically sound and rigorous preclinical research.
We’re leaving 2021 well positioned with a solid and growing pipeline, a team with both deep pharmaceutical research and technology experience, well-entrenched partnerships with contract research organizations to help move our pipeline forward, and an overwhelming validation that our approach to pharmaceutical discovery not only works but works exceptionally well. We are well on track to deliver treatments where patients need them most, and with this accelerated progress we are excited for the year ahead.
When I think about our future, I think about the path starting from that initial excitement of finding a new hit, a novel mechanism of action against a novel target, to the hard work it’s going to take from there to commercialization. We aren’t just focusing on using our platform to find an interesting and promising candidate, we are also building Aria for the future and bringing those treatments to patients.
With that, here are three areas of growth I see for Aria heading into 2022 that will bring us even closer to our long-term vision.
1. Growing our pipeline
We have already identified potential novel treatments in 18 different diseases, many for complex indications where patients have few options today. Our pipeline addresses significant areas of unmet need in immunology, fibrosis, metabolic and rare disease. However, when I speak about growing our pipeline, I don’t mean increasing our disease count from 18 to 19 because drug discovery and research is much more fluid.
Our team is looking to accomplish a few things in 2022. First is getting more preclinical data across the potential novel treatments we have identified. As we advance programs through the pipeline, we want to ensure we have a rich set of scientific evidence to support future development to the clinic.
As we generate more data on our existing candidates, we will naturally gain more focus. We’ll make decisions along the way on which candidates to prioritize. We will be concentrating on further advancing programs where we will have the most chance of success. We will also evaluate new disease areas where we think we have the data and expertise to find treatments.
We aim to expand with breadth of our pipeline to about two dozen disease areas in 2022. That said, the important thing is that our pipeline also progresses forward, progressing from discovery to the clinic with meaningful results.
2. Our trajectory into the clinic
We fully recognize that our success in preclinical studies is a precursor to the clinic, where we aim to advance only the programs that have the maximum chances of clinical success. Our primary goal in each development program is just that — tangible data that predicts future clinical success. Discovering a new therapy is just the launchpad toward reaching that goal.
In 2022, we fully expect to begin IND-enabling studies for novel candidates that have demonstrated positive safety and efficacy in preclinical models. We strongly believe in not only our preclinical data across multiple therapeutic areas, but in our efforts to de-risk those candidates even further through our robust discovery platform. We have the clinical development and regulatory expertise at Aria, as well as the right research partners, to begin the exciting next steps of entering clinical research.
3. Securing more intellectual property
A critical success factor in our future is obtaining patents for the novel candidates we have discovered. This is critical because we are focused on developing novel treatments in therapeutic areas that have significant commercial potential. Securing the intellectual property for those will ensure we can make the investment to develop them thoroughly through well-controlled research. Just as we did this year with SLE, we plan to file additional patents throughout our promising pipeline.
Aria has been continuously evolving over the last couple of years to become the leading preclinical-stage pharmaceutical company while still retaining our mission and focus on patients. Having an evolving pipeline, positive data and intellectual property are all steps that will help us accomplish that mission. However, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of how we are going to get there. We’ll continue to focus on our talent — some of the best in the industry today — as well as on growing our network of advisors and partners critical to helping us fulfill our mission.
As I look toward to our future and that of the industry, I see that we are poised for success in the broader pharmaceutical marketplace. We started off with the simple idea to help speed up the discovery of new treatments with a better success rate by integrating best-in-class AI drug discovery technology with drug development scientists who have extensive industry experience. We have proven our approach works and we sit today in an industry that is ready to more widely adopt the technology that will catalyze drug discovery broadly. We are ahead of that curve.
I am proud of the work Aria has done thus far, and I know we are nowhere near finished. We close out this year of growth and welcome a new year of progress.