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Palkion Inc.

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

CrystalGenomics Inc. and ProQuest Investments formed Palkion Inc. to identify and develop orally available anemia drugs that modulate the HIF prolyl hydroxylase enzyme system. Palkion is finishing up preclinical toxicology on its lead candidate for anemia associated with chronic kidney disease.

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Neumedicines Inc.

Neumedicines Inc. is developing IL-12-based therapeutics to restore hematopoiesis. Its lead compound HemaMax, recombinant human IL-12, is designed to regenerate the hematopoeietic system following exposure to radiation. A second program, HemaMax-II, will likely focus initially on treating chemotherapy-induced leucopenia, neutropenia, anemia and thrombocytopenia.

Bringing New Blood to the Anemia Market

Sales of erythropoiesis-stimulating agents for treating anemia totaled approximately $11.5 billion in 2008, about $7 billion in the US. Any emerging venture expecting to sink its teeth into this huge market will need to prove its future product offers greater ease of manufacture, storage, and administration, and lower price and a better safety profile compared with the widely used biologics, while overcoming the higher barriers to approval set by the FDA.

Akebia Therapeutics Inc.

Akebia Therapeutics believes that the shorter circulating half-life of its oral daily HIF-regulating compound, currently in Phase I trials, will keep it from over-stimulating EPO production, which is related to the cardiovascular and other safety issues faced by current injectable ESAs. Beyond its efforts with HIF and anemia, Akebia is also pursuing preclinical research on inhibitors of the human protein tyrosine phosphatase beta for vascular leakage.

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