Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a rare genetic disease, causes progressive muscle wasting that slowly robs people of their abilities and leads to death. In recent years, much attention has focused on the use of antisense oligonucleotides to bypass defective portions of the exon that codes for the dystrophin gene to restore its production. Dystrophin is a protein that is essential to healthy muscles. Summit Therapeutics is taking a different approach. Instead of restoring dystrophin, Summit is developing a drug that activates utrophin, a related protein that serves a similar function to dystrophin during fetal development, but then shuts off. We spoke to Glyn Edwards, CEO of Summit, about the company’s utrophin activator ezutromid, its licensing deal with Sarepta Therapeutics, and why, unlike the exon-skipping drugs that target specific subpopulaitons of Duchenne patients, ezutromid could provide benefits to patients broadly.
Daniel S. Levine is an award-winning business journalist who has reported on the life sciences, economic development, and business policy issues throughout his 25-year career. He founded Levine Media Group in 2013 to provide strategic communications to life sciences companies. He is host of The Bio Report and RARECast podcasts, a senior fellow at the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, and a member of the advisory board of the California Biotechnology Council.