Written for and originally published on BioSpace
BioSpace recently spoke with Jonathan Rigby, Group CEO of Revolo Biotherapeutics, a biotherapeutic company working to revolutionize the treatment of autoimmune and allergic diseases by achieving superior long-term disease remission through resetting the immune system.
Q: What is your role at Revolo?
A: I’m Group CEO of our revolutionary company Revolo Biotherapeutics, which includes Revolo Biotherapeutics Inc. in the U.S. and Revolo Biotherapeutics Limited in the U.K. It’s my job to look after both and I love it.
Q: What are you working on at Revolo?
A: We are working on two therapies that reset the immune system with the goal of superior long-term remission of autoimmune and allergic disease with less frequent dosing and without chronic suppression of the immune system. We have two drugs in development, ‘1104 and ‘1805. ‘1104 is a peptide and ‘1805 is a protein, both with immune resetting properties.
We’ve demonstrated that these drugs have a short pharmacokinetic life, but have pharmacodynamic effects that last weeks to months. Within a few hours of being given an injection, the drug is gone. During that time, we reset the immune system from a pro-inflammatory state to a regulated homeostatic state. We've fundamentally reset it.
Drugs like biologics work after the inflammation has happened, and there is an inflammatory cascade, often referred to as the cytokine storm, that's when your immune system goes haywire and can cause damage. Current drugs are trying to tackle the inflammation downstream of this cytokine release, whereas we are targeting the process right at the beginning and resetting the immune system. In a Phase II trial of ‘1805 in rheumatoid arthritis some patients went into remission of disease, from a single dose, that was observed for the 3-month duration of the study. In addition, these were rheumatoid arthritis patients that had failed on other biologics and other therapeutics. We gave them one injection and we had patients in remission.
Q: What is the mechanism for this effect?
A: Right at the beginning of an inflammatory cascade, you have dendritic cells, and they communicate with T-cells. If there's an allergen, in the case of allergic disease, or an autoantigen, in the case of autoimmune disease, the dendritic cell instructs these T-cells to change into certain types of T-cells, e.g., T effector cells. And these T effector cells cause this inflammatory cascade to happen. What both ‘1104 and ‘1805 do is interfere with the communication between the dendritic cell and the T-cell, so that the T-cells become T helper cells instead, which don't cause this inflammatory cascade and reset the immune system.
Q: How did you come to be at Revolo?
A: I've been in this industry for 30+ years. Over this timeframe I’ve told my colleagues, let's not forget about the patients and their suffering and let’s do something about it. I saw that Revolo could do this and that’s why I’m here.
A lot of people's primary focus is other than patients, but the core of a good company is trying to help them. I started my career working for big pharma companies and, over time, I've gone to smaller ones and those with a focus on rare diseases, where there are fewer treatments available.
I co-founded a company in 2006 called Zogenix, which is now a rare disease company, and another one in 2012, SteadyMed, which worked on a rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension, another life-threatening disease. SteadyMed was acquired in 2018. And then just over a year ago, I was looking for something new to do and I'd found out that Revolo Biotherapeutics, formerly called Immune Regulation, was looking for a CEO. I looked at the data and it got me really excited. I became the first employee in the U.S., R&D remains in the U.K., and since then I led the closing of a $53.4 million Series B financing and grew our U.S. presence with the hiring of expert executives that are passionate about and driven by our mission.
We are planning the initiation of four Phase II clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe in 2021 for rheumatoid arthritis, non-infectious uveitis, eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) and allergic disease. Despite challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been a very successful year for Revolo and we are excited for new successes ahead with our revolutionary drugs.
Q: What’s the best part of your job?
A: I love it. People say, "You need to think outside of the box." I say, "No, no, no. You have to get outside of the box and make things happen." I love working with a team that works with passion. If you're not passionate about what you're doing, then you should probably go and work somewhere else. You're passionate about the disease. You're passionate about making it better. You enjoy working with the people that you work with. And the Zoom boom last year, it's fascinating, I've managed to build a team, and all of us either know each other or somebody knows somebody. That's how we've organically grown the team. We all get along great. We're all singularly focused on the same mission. We're all in the same boat, rowing in the same direction, at the same rate. I really enjoy it. I get a great deal of satisfaction.
I love talking about it to new people, new investors. We're just starting a new investor outreach imminently, looking at additional sources of capital to help us continue to move forward to advance our revolutionary therapies that have the potential to fundamentally reshape the treatment landscape for autoimmune and allergic diseases and make patients better.