Life science companies driving
innovation together with us.
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
Exalys Therapeutics, Inc. is focused on developing a portfolio of novel anti-inflammatory therapeutics with best-in-class properties to target a range of diseases with significant unmet need and limited treatment options. Exalys will initially target postoperative delirium, the most common complication of surgery in older patients and a key driver of poor health outcomes. The Exalys portfolio of drug candidates has the potential to be applied to a number of other acute and chronic disease states with high societal impact.
What is the background of development of EP4 receptor antagonist and why did you find it attractiveness as a target?
Eisai initiated the discovery and development EP4 receptor antagonists originally as an oncology therapeutic. This first generation of molecules showed strong potential in their preclinical studies and have already entered clinical trials in cancer patients*. One attractive feature of EP4 as a target is its key role in many different disease processes involving inflammation. These can include not only cancer, but also potentially autoimmunity. A second compelling feature of this target is that it mediates a select subset of inflammation-related signaling, making it more specific than earlier drugs that suppress inflammation such as NSAIDs. This means that EP4 receptor antagonists may have similar breadth of applications as NSAIDs with fewer barriers to use in patients that cannot tolerate their side effects.
*Note: Eisai has granted a license to Adlai Nortye to develop a EP4 receptor antagonist in oncology and is currently in clinical trials. The EP4 receptor antagonists licensed to Exalys are a portfolio of EP4 receptor antagonists distinct from those licensed to Adlai Nortye.
What do you think of Exalys’ strategy to repurpose the asset into postoperative delirium as its initial indication?
I believe that the development of this asset for a completely novel indication (outside of oncology) will be able to maximize its value as an asset. Postoperative delirium, Exalys’ initial target indication, is a significant unmet medical need among elderly patients. We believe Exalys will advance this portfolio of highly promising candidates into the clinic generating immense value for patients worldwide. As an hhc company, Eisai looks to advance innovation through partnership designed to have an impact on public health and clinical medicine.
Do you think Japan can benefit further by developing assets through newly created venture-backed companies like Exalys?
Exalys is an ideal example of a VC-backed biotech. Here Domain Associates and Catalys Pacific founded Exalys as a bespoke vehicle to advance the development of our portfolio of EP4 receptor antagonists. And what I mean by “bespoke” is that Exalys was designed to marry the technology with the right team of experienced drug developers and the capital sufficient to effectively advance it through clinical development. This is an extremely attractive “company creation” model for not only Exalys but also Eisai and any Japanese pharmaceutical company. Working across oceans, Catalys Pacific has justly accelerated life science innovation for Japan and, ultimately, for patients worldwide.