Canada’s InMed taps Atera for human skin models in R&D deal

Atera will investigate the efficacy of InMed's topical, cannabinoid-based drug for epidermolysis bullosa in 3D models of human skin.(Getty Images)

Vancouver-based InMed Pharmaceuticals, which is working on cannabinoid-based treatments, is enlisting Atera Labs to develop 3D human skin models to assess the efficacy of its lead candidate, a topical drug for epidermolysis bullosa.

InMed has two candidates in its pipeline, a treatment for glaucoma—a disease resulting from abnormally high pressure in the eye—and a topical drug for epidermolysis bullosa, an illness that causes the skin to be fragile and therefore injury prone. The company is also looking into other dermatological and wound healing applications.

Some patients have mild EB, where they have a few blisters, but others may develop blisters inside the mouth, stomach and esophagus, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. If the blisters become infected, they may cause serious problems, such as the fusing of fingers and toes, or the scarring and narrowing of the esophagus.

Under the agreement, Atera will use human skin models of EB to evaluate the drug’s in vitro efficacy, according to a statement.

"INM-750 has demonstrated significant potential in pre-clinical models to address symptomatic improvement of EB including accelerated wound healing and a reduction in pain, itch and inflammation,” said InMed’s Chief Scientific Officer Sazzad Hossain in the statement. “This project with ATERA is designed to assess the potential of INM-750 to have an impact in disease reversal, further supporting our current data indicating an up-regulation in specific keratins in the skin.”

"By utilizing full-thickness skin models derived from EB skin samples, we can better validate INM-750's target effect and efficacy in vitro ahead of our upcoming clinical trial,” Hossain said.

Organovo is another player that produces tissue models, including human liver and kidney tissue, for preclinical studies. It is also working on 3D-bioprinted human liver tissue for use in transplants.