Rare Daily Staff

Therachon spinout VectivBio has launched with $35 million to develop transformational medicines for patients with serious rare diseases.

Therachon was acquired by Pfizer in 2019 for up to $810 million.

The financing includes commitments by Versant Ventures, OrbiMed, Novo Holdings, BPI France, Tekla Healthcare Investors, Inserm Transfer Initiative, and Cowen Healthcare Investments.

The Swiss biotech is led by a team of ex-Therachon management with deep expertise in rare diseases and a track record of success in research and development, commercialization and business development for innovative products targeting orphan conditions.

“Rare diseases remain an area of significant unmet medical need, where our team’s proven track record and entrepreneurial mindset will enable us to have a positive impact,” said Luca Santarelli, CEO of VectivBio and former CEO of Therachon.

VectivBio’s lead experimental drug candidate apraglutide is a next-generation GLP-2 analog being developed to treat short bowel syndrome (SBS). SBS results from extensive intestinal resection due to chronic inflammatory bowel disease, acute events such as trauma, mesenteric infarction, bariatric surgery or congenital abnormalities. Symptoms of SBS include diarrhea, dehydration, malnutrition, and weight loss.

To survive, patients with severe forms of SBS require parenteral support (PS), the intravenous delivery of essential nutrients, calories and fluids. For some patients, PS must be delivered for 10 to 15 hours per day, a significant burden that severely diminishes quality of life. In addition, people receiving chronic PS are exposed to increased rates of liver disease, and to an increased risk of infections due to the chronic presence of an infusion port positioned in a central vein. An estimated 35,000 people are thought to suffer from SBS in the U.S. and Europe, 15,000 of whom require lifelong PS and may thus be candidates for treatment with GLP-2 analogs.

Apraglutide is designed to increase the intestine’s ability to absorb fluids and nutrients, thereby minimizing the burden of parenteral support. It is a next-generation, synthetic GLP-2 analog rationally designed to achieve an extended half-life that has undergone extensive preclinical characterization and optimization. Topline results from two phase 2 studies of apraglutide in SBS patients are expected by the end of the first quarter of 2020. Based on preclinical and clinical data to date, apraglutide has the potential to be a best-in-class treatment for SBS, designed for once-weekly dosing with the potential to address the needs of patients across the anatomical disease spectrum that characterizes SBS.

In addition to PS, GLP-2 analogs can be used to increase the intestine’s ability to absorb fluids and nutrients taken orally. Depending on the SBS anatomical subtype, patients may display varying degrees of response to GLP-2 treatment, requiring patient-specific monitoring and PS adaptation across the SBS anatomical spectrum.

Photo: Luca Santarelli, CEO of VectivBio

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