clinical advisory board
Silvio Danese, MD, PhD

Professor of Gastroenterology, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University
Director of Gastroenterology and Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital

Silvio Danese is a Gastroenterologist and Professor of Gastroenterology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and IRCCS San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy, since October 2021, where he is Director of Gastroenterology and Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Unit. Before that, Professor Danese was Head of IBD Centre and ImmunoCentre at IRCCS Humanitas, Rozzano, Milan, Italy, and Professor of Gastroenterology at Humanitas University.

Professor Danese trained in Gastroenterology at Policlinico Gemelli, Rome and graduated as a PhD, working from 2001 to 2004 in Dr. Claudio Fiocchi’s laboratory at the Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. His main research area of interest is the investigation of the fundamental mechanisms underlying IBD pathogenesis, while his daily clinical activity relates to IBD service. He is actively involved in many international clinical trials in IBD and has published more than 700 papers in several journals, including New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Gastroenterology, Gut, Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Professor Danese is a member of many organizations related to the IBD field, including the European Crohn´s and Colitis Organization (ECCO), where he is Past President (2018 – 2020), and United European Gastroenterology, where he is Research Chair Elect.

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TL1A and IL-23

Morphic is leveraging its structural biology expertise and medicinal chemistry capabilities to develop small molecule therapeutic candidates against non-integrin targets including TL1-A and IL-23. Inhibition of these pathways have potential as treatments for IBD through monotherapy and possibly in combination with other IBD treatment mechanisms including α4β7 inhibition.

α5β1

Morphic is developing small molecule inhibitors of the integrin α5β1 based on research demonstrating that fibronectin integrin inhibition suppresses pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation. Potential indications include severe pulmonary hypertensive disease including pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Integrin Partnership: Janssen

Morphic entered a research partnership with Janssen in 2019 to discover inhibitors of undisclosed integrin targets. In 2021, this partnership was expanded to include an antibody activator of an integrin target, extending the application of Morphic’s knowledge of integrin biology into modalities beyond small molecules. The antibody activator program is the focus of our collaboration with Janssen today.

Undisclosed Targets

Morphic is leveraging the MInT Platform to discover therapeutically relevant small molecule inhibitors of targets across the integrin family to treat autoimmune diseases, cancer and fibrotic diseases.

Undisclosed Target for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Morphic is deploying the MInT Platform to create small molecule inhibitors of an undisclosed integrin target for evaluation as a potential treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). PAH is a devastating, usually fatal disease characterized by elevated mean pressures in the pulmonary artery and associated with lung and heart dysfunction. Morphic’s PAH program is in preclinical development.

αvβ8 (MORF-088)

Morphic is developing small molecule inhibitors of the integrin αvβ8 for potential uses in myelofibrosis and a combination immuno-oncology approach for the treatment of solid tumors. αvβ8 is known to activate selective isoforms of TGF-β and Morphic has demonstrated that αvβ8 inhibition can drive increased platelet production and potentiate immune checkpoint blockade and potentially drive responses in checkpoint refractory tumors. Morphic’s αvβ8 inhibitors are in preclinical development.

Next Gen α4β7 Inhibitors

Morphic is developing a family of next generation α4β7 small molecule inhibitors with enhanced attributes using the MInT Platform. These candidates have distinct chemical properties from our first-generation inhibitors with differentiated selectivity, potency, and pharmacokinetic profiles. Morphic’s next generation α4β7 inhibitors are currently in preclinical development.