UNION was incorporated in 2011 as AntibioTx, initially focusing on infectious diseases and in particular the growing and serious issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
In advanced screenings of well-characterized compounds, the company’s scientists identified several compounds with potential outside approved indications, including niclosamide.
During the work with the anti-bacterial properties of niclosamide, the team also discovered novel anti-inflammatory properties. This led to expansion of the disease focus to also include immunology with the starting point in immuno-dermatology. Because of the expanded therapeutic focus, the company was renamed to UNION therapeutics A/S in 2018.
In March 2020, researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Seoul screened a large number of molecules for activity against SARS-CoV-2. Niclosamide was identified to have a 40-fold higher potency in vitro against SARS-CoV-2 than remdesivir. UNION researchers managed to develop a high concentration solution of niclosamide, which could be combined with both nasal spray pumps and nebulizers supporting sufficient delivery to the target organs involved in COVID-19.
In June 2020, UNION acquired the full Phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4) inhibitor program from LEO Pharma. The lead candidate, orismilast, has been selected as a next generation PDE4 inhibitor, with high selectivity for PDE4 subtypes particularly involved in immunologic disease. Orismilast is developed both as a tablet and as a topical cream. The tablet of orismilast has been investigated in patients with moderate to severe psoriasis and delivered a robust proof of concept. Orismilast cream has been investigated in patients with mild-severe atopic dermatitis and also in this indication delivered a robust proof of concept. The broad immunomodulating effects of orismilast support the potential in other immunological diseases where unmet medical needs exist as well.