Stomach Ache Problem
Credit: sefa ozel/Getty Images

AbbVie this week acquired Celsius Therapeutics, whose focus is on “pioneering new precision medicines in inflammatory disease by harnessing the power of single-cell RNA sequencing and human biology at scale.” AbbVie acquired all outstanding Celsius equity for $250 million in cash. 

“AbbVie shares our excitement about the potential of TREM1 inhibition for patients with inflammatory disease,” said Tariq Kassum, MD, chief executive officer, Celsius. “We look forward to the further development of this promising program, which we hope will offer a new approach to the treatment of IBD.”

Celsius’ lead investigational asset is CEL383, a potential first-in-class anti-TREM1 antibody that has completed a Phase I clinical study in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) initiated in August 2023. In preclinical assays, CEL383 has been shown to inhibit TREM1 signaling, reducing the levels of multiple inflammatory mediators of high clinical relevance in inflammatory conditions. 

Celsius also has a proprietary discovery platform called SCOPE (Single-Cell Observations for Precision Effect) platform, which the company says provides “a new way to understand the cells that drive disease…What distinguishes our approach is our deep single-cell genomic analysis of meticulously curated datasets from human tissue samples. Celsius is the first company to do this at scale.” They say SCOPE also helps them design “more targeted drug development programs around newly-defined patient subsets.” 

The incidence of IBD per 100,000 person-years is estimated at 10.9. IBD refers to two conditions, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, both characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Prolonged inflammation results in damage to the GI. Common treatments include 5-aminosalicyclic acids, immunomodulators, corticosteroids, and  biologics. The global IBD market was estimated at $26.65B in 2023, and could grow to almost $50B in the next ten years. 

TREM1 has been identified as a key disease driver gene in IBD, where it is expressed on inflammatory monocytes and neutrophils. In these cell types and others, TREM1 is upstream of multiple known inflammatory pathways and acts as an amplifier of inflammation. In preclinical assays, CEL383 has been shown to inhibit TREM1 signaling, reducing the levels of multiple inflammatory mediators of high clinical relevance in inflammatory conditions.

“Given the potential relevance of TREM1 as a key driver of inflammation and pathology in IBD and other conditions, we are eager to advance the development of CEL383 with a goal of helping more patients with IBD achieve remission,” said Kori Wallace, MD, PhD, vice president, global head of immunology clinical development, AbbVie. 

A phase I first-in-human, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single ascending dose study evaluating the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics of CEL383 in healthy volunteers has concluded (NCT05901883). The study also included an exploratory assessment of target engagement as measured by receptor occupancy. 

“A substantial and growing body of evidence shows that TREM-1 plays a central role in ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, chronic inflammatory conditions that can significantly impact patient lives. We believe a precision therapy like CEL383 has the potential to offer a clinically meaningful treatment,” said Kassum.

Also of Interest