Agilex: Accelerating Biopharma Innovation in Inflammatory Skin Disorders

Looking beyond the surface on the Complexity of Atopic Dermatitis

Addressing inflammatory skin disorders like atopic dermatitis (eczema) requires scientific expertise, a proven track record, and a deep understanding of these conditions’ complexities.

At Agilex, we bring over 26 years of experience supporting the development of remedies for many inflammatory disorders. Our clinical expertise makes us a highly trusted partner for small- to medium-sized companies operating in the biopharma niche.

Understanding the Complexity of Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by itching, redness, and sometimes blistering. It affects millions of individuals worldwide. As the skin is the body’s largest organ, atopic dermatitis poses significant challenges to patients and healthcare providers.

Dermatitis can manifest in various forms and may result from multiple causes, including allergic reactions, irritants, infections, genetic factors, and autoimmune disorders. Dermatitis often presents symptoms such as redness, itching, swelling, and sometimes blistering or oozing of the affected skin. There are several types of dermatitis, including:

• Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. It often occurs in individuals predisposed to allergies and may be associated with other allergic conditions such as asthma and hay fever.

• Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with irritants or allergens, leading to inflammation. We can further classify contact dermatitis into irritant contact dermatitis (caused by exposure to irritants) and allergic contact dermatitis (caused by an allergic reaction to specific substances).

• Seborrheic dermatitis is a common inflammatory condition that primarily affects areas of the skin rich in oil glands, such as the scalp, face, and upper chest. Redness, greasy scales, and dandruff-like flakes characterize it.

• Nummular dermatitis, also known as discoid eczema, is characterized by coin-shaped patches of inflamed skin that may be itchy and scaly.

• Dyshidrotic dermatitis, or dyshidrosis, is a form of dermatitis that affects the hands and feet, causing small blisters and intense itching.

Treatment for dermatitis depends on the underlying cause and may include topical corticosteroids, moisturizers, antihistamines, and avoidance of triggers or irritants. A healthcare professional may recommend additional interventions or medications in severe cases or when complications arise.

At Agilex, we recognize the intricate interplay of 1) genetic factors, 2) immune responses, and 3) environmental triggers contributing to the development and progression of atopic dermatitis.

Understanding the Critical Role Played by Genetics

Several genes play critical roles in maintaining the integrity of the human skin barrier. One of the most well-known genes associated with skin barrier function is the filaggrin gene (FLG).

Scientists have linked mutations in the filaggrin gene to various skin disorders, including atopic dermatitis. Filaggrin plays a vital role in the formation of the stratum corneum, the outermost layer of the skin, and its breakdown products contribute to the skin’s natural moisturizing factor. Other genes involved in maintaining skin barrier integrity include:

• The loricrin (LOR) gene is a major protein component of the cornified cell envelope, essential for the stratum corneum’s structural integrity.

• Keratin genes (e.g., KRT1 and KRT10) are structural proteins that provide mechanical support to epithelial cells, including those in the skin. Mutations in keratin genes can lead to skin disorders such as epidermolytic hyperkeratosis.

• Desmoglein genes (e.g., DSG1 and DSG3) are desmosomal cadherins involved in cell-cell adhesion in the epidermis. Mutations in desmoglein genes can lead to skin fragility disorders like pemphigus.

• The Periplakin gene (PPL) is an essential component of desmosomes and plays a role in maintaining cell-cell adhesion in the epidermis.

• Claudin-1 genes (CLDN1) are integral membrane proteins that form tight junctions between epithelial cells, contributing to the skin’s barrier function.

These are just a few examples of the many genes involved in maintaining the integrity of the human skin barrier. Dysfunction or mutations in any of these genes can compromise the skin barrier function and lead to various skin disorders.

A Multifaceted Approach to Support Biopharma Innovators In the battle against atopic dermatitis, Agilex has supported multiple programs, leveraging our core bioanalytical facility in Adelaide, Australia. Our involvement is not confined to Australia but spans from multi-center clinical trials across Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific region to global multi-center studies.

At Agilex, our expertise extends beyond traditional bioanalytical services. We offer a comprehensive suite of services tailored to the unique needs of biotech companies focused on inflammatory disorders:

• Bespoke Pharmacokinetic and Immunogenicity Assays: Our team specializes in developing and validating customized assays to assess drug exposure and immune responses critical for understanding treatment efficacy and safety profiles.

• Validated Biomarker Assays: We have established validated biomarker assays targeting key inflammatory biomarkers such as immunoglobulin E (IgE), IL-6, TNF-alpha, and IL-1 beta. These assays provide invaluable insights into the modulation of inflammatory responses in the skin.

• Regulatory Immune Cell Panels: With the expansion of our immunobiology department, we possess extensive experience in setting up regulatory immune cell panels. These panels enable the investigation of immune cell infiltration and homing, particularly T-regulated cells, into organs and tissues like the skin.

• Modern Technologies: We employ multiparametric analysis techniques, including flow cytometry and droplet digital PCR, to profile immune cells, cytokines, and gene expression patterns in clinical samples. These technologies allow us to elucidate dynamic changes during treatment and identify potential biomarkers for patient stratification.

Why Choose Agilex?

What sets Agilex apart is our technical capabilities and team of published expert scientists who have significantly contributed to reputable journals. Our scientists have been at the forefront of groundbreaking research on T-regulatory cells and their role in driving inflammatory disorders, enriching our scientific knowledge, and guiding our approach to bioanalysis.

For small-to-medium emerging biotech companies embarking on Phase One programs in Australia, Agilex offers unparalleled support to accelerate drug development. Whether it’s developing custom assays, navigating regulatory requirements, or facilitating global multicenter studies, we are committed to empowering our clients at every stage of their journey.

If you’re seeking innovative solutions to advance your atopic dermatitis project to Phase One and beyond, look no further than Agilex.

Contact Agilex today to discover how our tailored services can propel your biopharma initiatives forward. Together, let’s shape the future of inflammatory disorder treatment.

To learn more about conducting your drug development program in Australia or about Agilex Biolabs, contact our experts today.