Alvine Pharmaceuticals Inc.
This article was originally published in Start Up
Alvine Pharmaceuticals aims to treat celiac disease-a common hereditary autoimmune disorder in which the intestinal lining reacts to wheat, barley or rye gluten, leading to pain, bloating, and damage to the gut--with an orally available drug meant to degrade gluten in the stomach into peptide fragments too small to stimulate an immune response. Generally, antigens need to be at least nine amino acids long to rouse an immune response, but Alvine expects its lead compound to chop up gluten into peptide fragments a third that size or smaller.
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Meanwhile, companies like Mylan and Novartis also reportedly have joined the Actavis chase. In addition, there’s been deal-making news from Elan and Theravance, Merck-Serono and Quintiles, and AbbVie and Alvine.
Alvine and AbbVie have inked a deal that could allow the larger company to acquire the biotech based on results of a Phase IIb trial for its celiac disease treatment.
Like other start-up companies working to develop drugs for GI disorders, Ventrus Biosciences was attracted to the sector not only by unmet clinical needs and the focused sales opportunities, but also by the potential for creating a cross-over success: a drug that launches as a prescription product but eventually leaps over the counter to become a blockbuster, á la Claritin. Ventrus has two drug candidates ready for Phase III testing: a topical gel formulation of diltiazem, a generic vasodilator, as a treatment for anal fissures, and a novel compound it hopes will become the first new product approved for hemorrhoids in 30 years.