Allena Pharmaceuticals Inc. is developing a recombinant version of an undisclosed enzyme that degrades oxalate in the GI tract to treat hyperoxaluria, a metabolic disease for which there are no therapies. It believes the enzyme could have manufacturing advantages over the most advanced competitor, which is a probiotic.

There are two forms of hyperoxaluria. Primary hyperoxaluria is an autosomal recessive disease affecting 5,000-7,000 patients worldwide. Hepatic enzyme deficiencies in glyoxylate metabolism lead to increased endogenous oxalate synthesis and the buildup of calcium oxalate crystals in the kidneys. Subsequent renal failure occurs in 50% of patients by age 15 and 80% of patients by age 30, according to The Oxalosis & Hyperoxaluria Foundation. Those patients will need kidney and liver transplantation.