It all started when…

in 2009 Erik Hack established the Inflammation Research Lab of the Departments of Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology and Dermatology/Allergology in the University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU) and decided to focus its research on improving the therapeutic potential of interleukin 10 (IL10). IL10 is the most potent endogenous anti-inflammatory molecule in the human body. Yet, clinical studies with this molecule were stopped because of disappointing results. Inspired by previous research in the laboratory of Floris Lafeber at the UMCU on combined activity of IL-4 and IL-10, it was decided to make a fusion protein of these two cytokines. It was anticipated that such a fusion molecule would overcome several limitations of wild-type IL10: it has a longer half-life (due to its increased molecular mass), both cytokine moieties neutralize mutually the pro-inflammatory effects of their partner, and the fusion protein allows synergy between the two cytokine moieties. Because of this latter feature, the molecule was named IL4-IL10 synerkine. It was decided to evaluate the potential of synerkine in several murine models for nociceptive and neuropathic pain and osteoarthritis (OA). The results of these studies were remarkable: synerkine normalizes pain in all models tested. Also, it improves cartilage metabolism, inhibits inflammation and normalizes pain in OA models, and therefore meets the criteria of a potential disease modifying OA drug. These promising results formed the basis for Synerkine Pharma.