With partners John McKearn, Niall O’Donnell, and Nancy Hong all trained in immunology, we at RiverVest have a keen appreciation for the immune system.

As the human body’s security system, the immune system protects us from infections and cancers. But like any powerful tool, the immune system can be harmful when it goes haywire. In diseases like EGIDs (eosinophilic gastrointestinal disorders), the immune system is overactive and can cause a variety of problems such as difficulty swallowing and eating, severe pain, and diarrhea. EGID patients currently have limited options for symptom management and nothing to treat the underlying cause of disease.
Allakos’ lead drug candidate, antolimab (AK002), is an investigational therapeutic antibody that targets Siglec-8, an inhibitory receptor found on the surface of mast cells and eosinophils. By targeting Siglec-8, antolimab offers the potential to treat a broad range of serious, complex inflammatory diseases, including EGIDs and others shown below.
There are a variety of diseases that may be addressed by the Siglec-8 pathway in inflammatory immune cells.
RiverVest is proud to play a role in the story of Allakos. Sparked by a Series A financing from a syndicate including RiverVest, Allakos embarked on a multiyear process of drug development and clinical trial design and execution. In particular, John has been a key board member, helping guide the company through its stages of maturation. Ultimately, Allakos has been positioned to test the role of Siglec-8 in disease with a few vital ingredients: 
  • a seasoned management team well known through a prior investment in ZS Pharma, a big winner in RiverVest’s portfolio
  • a development plan focused on clinical trials in serious diseases driven by the cells of interest
  • financial backing of a $100M Series B followed by a $180M IPO, a top performing biotech IPO of 2018
Allakos reported results from its Phase 2 trial in patients with the EGIDs Eosinophilic Gastritis, Eosinophilic Gastroenteritis, and/or Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EG/EGE/EoE), building on prior results in chronic urticaria, severe allergic conjunctivitis, and indolent systemic mastocytosis. By targeting Siglec-8, Allakos has a unique opportunity to address important unmet medical needs in mast cell and eosinophil-driven diseases.

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