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VC-backed GI Start-Ups See Opportunity In IBS

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Private companies developing drugs for gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome hope to take advantage of a resurging interest in the space after linaclotide developer Ironwood Pharmaceuticals has shown its novel, locally acting guanylate cyclise type-C agonist is efficacious in four Phase III trials. We profile four such hopefuls in this issue: Altheus Therapeutics, AltheRx Pharmaceuticals, Aldrex and Second Genome.

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Altheus Therapeutics Inc.

If you can’t beat them, join them. Looks like the backers of Altheus Therapeutics Inc. see sound business sense in this homily: the start-up is working to create a potent new treatment for ulcerative colitis by combining N-acetylcysteine, an anti-inflammatory compound, with the aspirin derivative mesalamine, which for decades has been the front-line therapy for the condition.

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Ironwood Pharmaceuticals: Independent for the Long Haul

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals has yet to get a drug approved, yet it shares with a handful of R&D companies an increasingly implausible aspiration to become the next successful, independent, pharmaceutical growth story. Thanks to a corporate culture that values strategic thinking and a financial structure that puts change-of-control decisions in the hands of long-term shareholders, it may be uniquely positioned to achieve that goal.

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