Three Questions with Koutif Therapeutics Scientific Co-founder, Dr. Rama Mallampalli
BioMotiv’s portfolio companies are based on distinctive innovations emanating from talented scientists across the world. From time to time, the BioMotiv Blog will feature a Q&A with one of the scientific founders we work with to gain insight into what motivated them to pursue their discoveries.
By: Erin Reese
Rama K. Mallampalli, MD, Scientific Co-Founder of Koutif Therapeutics, is an internationally recognized investigator in the area of lipid metabolism and ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis as it relates to inflammation and injury. The primary goal of his research is to better understand inflammation, that when left unchecked, leads to tissue and organ injury.
During his fellowship at the University of Iowa, Dr. Mallampalli embarked on the path to develop an antirejection medicine for lung transplant patients that is more effective than prednisone and without the side effects. He serendipitously discovered a new protein that stimulates the immune system to cause inflammation and hypothesized that the protein is involved in switching on a process that initiates transplant rejection.
Two years later, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Dr. Mallampalli and his research team proved that giving a compound that blocks the protein’s activity prevents transplant rejection. In 2012 he filed a patent. In 2016, he was named a Harrington Scholar, which provided him with the resources needed to further test his compound in the lab to move it closer to the clinic.
Fast-forward to today, and Dr. Mallampalli’s compound has successfully completed IND-enabling studies, showing its efficacy for use in multiple inflammatory conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease), bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lung injury, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Here, he shares some additional insight into his work:
What motivated you to pursue your discovery?
I wanted to better understand how we could devise a way to generate a compound that could inhibit a relatively new pro-inflammatory protein called Fbxo3 that could ultimately help patients with respiratory illness.
How did you discover your technology?
We discovered this technology in the course of uncovering the behavior of a previously unrecognized human protein called Fbxo3 that was observed to potently be involved in the inflammatory response. We were fortunate to have access to the structure of a related molecule in bacteria that set the stage for the design, synthesis, and testing of a new family of chemical inhibitors against Fbxo3 that we observed to be effective in various preclinical models of inflammation.
What is the most surprising thing you have learned as you worked through the commercialization process?
The wealth and diversity of superb talent that Koutif and BioMotiv have provided to support this drug development program. This type of team has been indispensable to move our lead compound forward.
Click here to learn more about Dr. Mallampalli’s work at Koutif, including the successful completion of IND-enabling studies for lead compound KT-1002, for which the company expects to file an IND application in late 2018.
Dr. Mallampalli is a Professor and Chief of the Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Division at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Staff Physician at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.