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Feb 25, 2013
 |  BioCentury  |  Emerging Company Profile

Merganser: Hip to Hep

Merganser developing hepcidin hormone peptide mimetics for beta thalassemia

Merganser Biotech Inc. is working on a treatment for beta thalassemia that can reduce the toxic accumulation of iron. The company expects using peptide mimetics to regulate iron absorption will be more effective than mopping excess iron up after the fact, as marketed chelators do.

Beta thalassemia is an Orphan genetic blood disorder caused by aberrant synthesis of beta globin (HBB) chains resulting in continuous overproduction of defective proteins, many of which are broken down and release a glut of iron.

Patients with moderate to severe thalassemia are treated with blood transfusions, iron chelation and vitamin supplements.

CEO Brian MacDonald said the iron chelator Exjade deferasirox "gets a lot of use in thalassemia."

Novartis AG reported $870 million in 2012 sales of Exjade.

Merganser is developing peptides that mimic hepcidin, an endogenous hormone that regulates iron absorption.

Hepcidin "acts as a key regulator of iron transfer and metabolism in the body, and it sounded as though...

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