HAPLN1 (Hyaluronan And Proteoglycan Link proteiN1) is an endogenous glycoprotein widely present in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of human and animal blood or tissues that stably binds hyaluronic acid (high molecular polysaccharide) and proteoglycan (complex glycoprotein) stoichiometrically. It exhibits various effects and functions such as moisturizing, viscosity, elasticity, etc. As a mechanical, chemical, and biological defense material against external stimuli, HAPLN1 has a characteristic that decreases with aging.
HaplnScience, Inc. is the first in the world to discover a new function of HAPLN1 that not only rejuvenates aging skin but also promotes regeneration of various human tissues that are deteriorated with age by identifying HAPLN1 as an endogenous protein that rejuvenates the dermis of old mice, through an experimental heterochronic parabiosis study.
When the purified recombinant HAPLN1 was administered to old mice, the epidermal and dermal layer thickness increased, and collagen and hyaluronic acid levels, which were significantly reduced compared to the young mice, were restored. Interestingly, in the established alopecia model using mouse, it was observed hair generation was remarkably promoted in a beta-catenin-dependent manner.
In addition, when recombinant HAPLN1 was administered to the knee joint cavity of a mouse osteoarthritis model, the levels of collagen 2 and aggrecan, which are the biomarkers of cartilage regenerative capacity, were significantly increased. Similar efficacy and pain relief effect were also observed in rat and goat osteoarthritis models,
demonstrating the possibility of its development as a candidate for First-in-Class DMOAD (Disease-Modifying Osteoarthritis Drug). On the other hand, in the elastase-induced mouse model of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which occurs frequently in the elderly due to smoking and fine dust, when recombinant HAPLN1 was inhaled in the form of an aerosol, it was observed that the alveolar walls, which were already destroyed/damaged due to disease induction, recovered to the almost normal level. It showed its potential as a drug candidate for a fundamental, regenerative treatment against emphysema in COPD, which has not yet been developed over the world. HaplnScience aims to develop a first-in-class protein drug that can fundamentally treat various refractory chronic diseases caused by aging-related degeneration while clarifying the mechanism of action that explains these new functions of the recombinant HAPLN1.