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26 June, 2019 - 16:38 By Tony Quested

Atlantic Healthcare pounces on big bucks US opportunity

Cambridge UK rare disease innovator Atlantic Healthcare plc is betting millions of dollars on potential returns from the acquisition of a treatment for gastrointestinal motility disorders.

It has agreed to acquire the global rights to renzapride from EndoLogic LLC in New Jersey.

Renzapride is a clinical stage product which Atlantic believes has wide applicability for the treatment of motility disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, many of which represent significant unmet medical needs.

Gut motility is a measure of the ability of food to pass through the digestive tract. Many issues can arise from poor gut motility, particularly malnutrition, which results from the body’s inability to properly absorb nutrients.

EndoLogic will receive a signature payment to the value of $3m, enabling the company to acquire an equity stake in Atlantic Healthcare. 

EndoLogic is also eligible to receive up to $48m in milestone payments for the development of gastrointestinal indications, a number of which are expected to be orphan designations. The agreement also includes a commercial milestone payment and single digit royalties on product sales.

Atlantic CEO Toby Wilson Waterworth, said: “Renzapride is an important addition to Atlantic Healthcare’s portfolio, which complements the company’s existing pipeline. 

“The molecule’s attractive safety profile and unique dual mode of action will help differentiate it from other products targeting gut motility. We look forward to building a robust clinical pipeline with renzapride to address unmet patient needs in this GI clinical area.”

Dr Zamir Brelvi, co-founder and CEO at EndoLogic added: “Dr Kamal Dutta, my co-founder, and I are delighted to have agreed terms with Atlantic Healthcare to develop further renzapride’s potential. 

“As leaders of EndoLogic, which seeks innovative solutions for unmet patient needs, we are confident that Atlantic Healthcare’s expertise in orphan drug and gastrointestinal indications will be invaluable. 

“We are pleased to become a shareholder and look forward to contributing our medical expertise in the years ahead.”

Renzapride is an orally bioavailable small molecule with a dual mode of action. It is a full agonist at 5-HT4 receptors and stimulates gut motility. 

It is also a partial antagonist at 5-HT3 receptors, which has the effect of reducing nausea and vomiting, symptoms experienced by many patients with impaired gut motility. This dual mode of action means renzapride has the potential to treat a variety of gastrointestinal disorders.

In clinical trials involving over 1,000 patients, renzapride has demonstrated efficacy in the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract. These trials have shown that it can enhance gastric emptying, reduce small bowel transit time and increase colonic motility.

In development, renzapride has been found to be safe and well tolerated. It does not demonstrate the cardiac toxicity and prolonged QT interval (the time it takes for the ventricles of the heart to contract and relax) exhibited by some other products with the same pharmacology.

Atlantic Healthcare intends to commercialise its products in Europe and the US using a specialist sales team targeting gastroenterologists in hospitals and specialist care centres. 

It plans to partner with established pharmaceutical companies to commercialise products in the rest of the world.

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