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Phathom Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of novel treatments for gastrointestinal (GI) diseases and disorders. The company is advancing the clinical drug candidate vonoprazan, a novel potassium-competitive acid blocker (P-CAB). Vonoprazan has the potential to address multiple unmet needs among patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other acid-related disorders.
What is the unmet medical need addressed by your clinical drug candidate vonoprazan?
Patients with erosive esophagitis fail to respond to existing treatments with proton pump inhibitors in almost a third of cases. Vonoprazan promises to provide adequate treatment of these patients. In addition current regimens for eradicating H. pylori infection have diminished in efficacy with the standard proton pump inhibitors. Antibiotic regimens used in combination with Vonoprazan have been shown to be effective in eradicating infection in more than 90% of patients.
What is the significance of trying to develop an asset through a new company like Phathom?
Phathom combines the talents of an experienced team of clinical development experts with those of experts in new company creation backed by a strong syndicate of investors. New companies so constituted have proved to be highly efficient and resourceful in developing new medicines to bring them to patients quickly and with minimum of expense.
Do you think Japan can benefit further by developing assets through newly created venture-backed companies like Phathom?
Japan has proved to be a fertile environment for the discovery of new medicines because of its strong science base and deep knowledge of Pharmaceutical development. To date Japan has not been less successful in translating these qualities into evolution of a vibrant venture-backed biotech sector. Phathom and one of it’s investors, Catalys Pacific, provides one opportunity which we hope will help to bring about change in this situation. It also illustrates how global large pharmaceutical companies are increasingly partnering their assets with start-up companies like Phathom to develop some of their assets taking advantage of alternative sources of funding as well as the productivity of a focused experienced team unfettered by the usual impediments encountered in large companies.
Three questions answered by Dr. Tachi Yamada
- Source Company:
Toyama Chemical Corp
(a subsidiary of Fujifilm Holdings Corporation)
- Preferred Partners:
Recida Therapeutics, Inc. focuses on the development of novel-class antibiotics to address the expanding problem of multi-drug resistant gram-negative bacteria. Treatment of infections caused by resistant gram-negative bacteria is recognized as an unmet medical need with no new class of anti-gram-negative agents successfully developed in fifty years. Recida’s lead product, RC-01, is a novel LpxC inhibitor exhibiting potent in vitro and in vivo antibacterial activity against drug-resistant gram-negative bacteria, including many that are highly resistant to currently available antibiotics.
What is the unmet medical need that can be addressed with the drug candidate, RC-01, a novel LpxC inhibitor being developed by Recida?
AMR (Antimicrobial resistance) is one of the most critical public health, that may take as many as 10 million lives by 2050 without innovations in prevention, diagnosis and importantly therapy. Among the various AMR bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria are the more challenging ones. Some of the recently approved agents (e.g. ceftazidime-avibactam, meropenem-vaborbactam) offer therapeutic advantages for the group Enterobacteriaceae, but agents with activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a very common AMR pathogen in hospitals, are still lacking. In addition, infection with AMR P. aeruginosa is often deadly among cystic fibrosis patients. RC-01 is poised to fill this niche.
In the area of anti-infectives, what is the significance of trying to develop an asset through a new company like Recida?
Due to the relatively low ROI of anti-infectives, the large pharmas have left the field in droves over the last 15 years. While various push incentives are in place and pull incentives are also being discussed to address the broken market, the field remains highly challenging. While drug discovery efforts remain robust at academic laboratories and startups, promising leads do not make it across the pre-clinical and early clinical “valley of death” due to lack of interest from pharmas. This opens up an opportunity for efficient biotechs like Recida, which are led by small, experienced teams to bridge the gap.
Do you think Japan can benefit further by developing assets through newly created venture-backed companies like Recida?
Absolutely. Japan was a leader in the anti-infective R&D from 1950s through 1990s, but most discovery efforts and clinical development programs were carried out in-house by pharmas, or sometimes candidates were licensed out to overseas entities for further development. Now the pharmas are shrinking anti-infective R&D and institutional memories are being lost. It is true that Japan lacks a bioventure ecosystem for the most part, however, such venture would get benefit if it lead through pre-clinical studies and phase I as it would be attractive for large pharmas.