Work on sickle cell drug advances
By Heide Brandes
The Journal Record
Feb. 29, 2012
OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma City-based biopharmaceutical company is one step closer to advancing a new drug designed to treat severe sickle cell disease, and that step is also making the company more lucrative to possible partnerships with other pharmaceutical companies or venture capital groups.
Selexys Pharmaceuticals completed a Phase I clinical safety study of SelG1, an antibody that targets a specific molecule in sickle cell disease. If approved through the Food and Drug Administration after clinical trials, SelGI would join only one other treatment option for those suffering from sickle cell disease.
"There is only one approved drug currently for sickle cell," said Dr. Russell Rother, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Selexys Pharmaceuticals. "That drug does benefit about 50 percent of patients, but patients who do respond don't respond completely."
After completion of the Phase I clinical study, which was a placebo-controlled, double-blind study on 27 healthy subjects, the next step for SelG1 is the Phase II clinical trial in patients with the disease.
"We are seeking guidance now from the FDA to advance the program to proceed," Rother said. "We were thrilled of course to see the healthy subjects tolerate the drug so well."
Moving out of Phase I also puts Selexys in a better position for seeking investors and partners to shoulder the cost of the expensive clinical trials to come.
"We are considering partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and venture investors, and moving out of Phase I gives us data to go out with when approaching venture capital groups," Rother said. "It's definitely a success for us. When our finances are secured for Phase II study, we'll have new high-paying positions in the company."
Securing funding and moving ahead would also spread the wealth to other Oklahoma-based companies, like Cytovance Biologics, which could possibly manufacture the drug, Rother said.
"Advancing the program definitely creates value for our company and for shareholders," Rother said. "Phase II can be quite expensive, so we are looking for those partnerships with pharma or with venture capital groups."
The completed Phase I study also represented a better understanding of the potential of SelG1 to address the unmet medical need in sickle cell disease, said Dr. Scott Rollins, Selexys president and CEO.
"This trial completion marks a key milestone for Selexys as we prepare to initiate a large Phase II efficacy study of this novel compound in patients with sickle cell disease," he said in a recent press release. "SelG1 represents a first-in-class therapeutic approach for the treatment of sickle cell disease and potentially other proinflammatory and prothrombotic conditions."
Selexys is a privately held biopharmaceutical company that is focused on development of therapeutics for the treatment of inflammation and thrombosis across a broad range of severe diseases. Selexys is also developing an antibody directed against PSGL-1 for the treatment of Crohn's disease and other inflammatory disorders.
Original Article at journalrecord.com