12:00 AM
Mar 06, 2006
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

Poor bioavailability pays off

Microbia Inc. says its $75 million series E round will give the company more cash than it probably needs to bring its Phase II compound for gastrointestinal disorders and Phase I cholesterol product to market, providing the leverage it needs to compete for the right kind of development and financing deals down the road.

The company says that in addition to their market potential, the relatively low risk profile of its pipeline was key to inspiring the confidence of its investors, which included some well known hedge funds.

The GI compound, MD-1100, is a guanylate cyclase C agonist that would be first in class (see BioCentury, May 24, 2004). MD-0727 is a cholesterol absorption inhibitor that Microbia hopes to position as a better version of Zetia ezetimibe, for which Schering-Plough Corp. and Merck & Co. Inc. recorded $1.4 billion in worldwide sales in 2005.

The appeal of both is two-fold: neither is absorbed systemically, which should limit side effects; and neither requires long or large clinical trials.

"We've done something that's counter to the industry trend in that we've explicitly tried to make these products have poor bioavailability," CEO Peter Hecht told BioCentury. "We designed them so they would stay in the GI tract."

In preclinical models, systemic exposure to MD-1100 was about 0.2% and exposure to MD-0727 was about 0.4%. "In Phase 1 single and multidose studies for MD-1100, we have not detected any systemic exposure at any dose," Hecht said.

One new investor, who asked not to be identified, liked the fact that both products have low bioavailability outside the gut. In addition, he noted MD-0727 has the same mechanism of action as Zetia. As a result, he views the product as de-risked compared with an NCE.


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