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Glyco-engineered interleukin-4 based antagonists

Prof. Thomas Müller, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg; Sarah Thomas, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg; Dr Juliane Fiebig, Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH


Interleukin-4 (IL4) and IL13 are crucial mediators in the onset and progression of chronic inflammatory diseases. Thus, over the past 10 years IL4 and IL13 became central targets in novel therapy strategies directed against atopic dermatitis, allergy and allergic asthma. Most of them are based on neutralizing antibodies. Due to compensatory functions of IL4 and IL13 antibodies targeting either one of the cytokines or receptors gamma chain or IL-13Rα1 act as partial antagonists, only reducing IL4 or IL13 activity.
In contrast, targeting the IL-4Rα receptor has been shown to be a successful treatment strategy inhibiting both IL4 and IL13. Pitrakinra, an IL-4 mutant (R121DY124D) inhibits IL4 and IL13 signalling through blockade of the shared IL4Rα receptor. However, due to pitfalls, like a rather short serum half-life of three hours, Pitrakinra failed to meet the endpoints in a clinical phase 2b trial.


Our technology provides a new strategy for the generation of a novel IL4-based IL4/IL13-inhibitor that

  • blocks signaling of endogenous IL4 and IL13 with an IC50 5x lower than Pitrakinra
  • exhibits an increased serum lifetime 
  • shows extremely low immunogenic potential allowing longterm application

This was achieved by inducing a sterically blocking group into a central position of the receptor-interacting epitope of IL4. Introducing steric hindrance is much more efficient in abrogating an interaction between two binding partners than creating an electrostatic missmatch (Pitrakinra). To reduce the immunogenic potential, mono- and oligosaccharides that can mimic N-glycan structures naturally found in glycoproteins such as IL4 were added by inducing multiple specific mutations. These modifications with complex oligosaccharide groups also enhance protein stability by strongly reducing renal and endocytotic protein clearance.

Commercial Opportunity

  • New strategy for the generation of a novel IL4-based IL4/IL13-Inhibitor
  • Innovative application of N-glycan structures for development of receptor antagonists
  • Applicable for following areas: atopic dermatitis, allergy and allergic asthma

Development Status

Proof-of-concept in vitro.

Patent Situation

Filed in 2018. EP pending.

Further Reading



Glyco-engineered interleukin-4 based antagonists