Numerous conditions are caused by chronic inflammation, but patients have few options and in desperate need of better, longer-lasting treatments that offer relief. Although there has been significant progress in research, few novel drugs have come to market. Targeting mechanisms that modulate inflammation has historically been difficult because pathways that modulate inflammation act broadly. Using agents to dampen local inflammation has therefore had serious side effects and toxicity.
The Boston-based startup Alivio Therapeutics is developing a novel technology for the targeted treatment of inflammatory disorders. The technology is based on an innovative hydrogel material that is specifically designed to adhere to and deliver drugs to inflamed tissue based on the degree of inflammation. The more inflammation, the more drug is released at the site, leaving healthy tissue alone. The startup has already done testing in a mouse model of ulcerative colitis, a bowel disease that cause inflammation in the digestive tract, and the results published in Science Translational Medicine showed a significant reduction in inflammation.
The innovative technology has the potential to overcome major challenges in the treatment of inflammatory disorders, enabling the development of new, disease-modifying therapies. Its unique properties could help maximize treatment efficacy while minimizing the risks of side effects and toxicity. More importantly, Alivio’s novel drug delivery platform could change the everyday lives of millions of people worldwide living with inflammatory disorders. In USA alone, there are over 1.5 million people living with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, two of the most common inflammatory disorders. These can be both painful and emotionally burdensome, and annually there are over 2 million ambulatory care visits and 200 000 hospitalizations. Finding better treatment options could significantly improve quality of life, while reducing associated costs and strain on the healthcare system, highlighting the huge opportunity of Alivio and their technology.
Alivio Therapeutics was launched by PureTech Health in May 2016 and is already backed by an impressive team. The startup was co-founded by MIT professor Robert Langer together with Jeff Karp, an associate professor of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Scientists Michael Brenner, Ulrich von Andrian, and Ralph Weissleder, all affiliated with Harvard Medical School, are on the startup’s scientific advisory board, while Ivana Magovcevic-Liebisch, senior vice president and head of global business development at Teva Pharmaceuticals, is on the company’s board of directors.