Based: Research Triangle Park, NC
Founded: 1999 www.tranzyme.com
Why It's Fierce: Tranzyme Pharma's researchers believe they're on track to develop a small molecule ghrelin agonist that can promote upper gastrointestinal motility in post operative ileus. Essentially, they hope to restart the digestive process. In just a matter of weeks, Tranzyme posted preclinical animal data that supports their program, completed a $32 million financing round and laid the groundwork for an IND at the end of this year, just after a Phase I trial is scheduled to start. In the lead-up to the Fierce 15 deadline, Tranzyme was ecstatic that new research showed that their ghrelin agonist did not produce human growth hormone. If it did, the compound would have more limited therapeutic uses. By showing the absence of growth hormone release, researchers were buzzing about the compound's high specificity, with abilities to bind tighter and offer greater therapeutic efficacy.
What to look for: Tranzyme has the money now to get through Phase I and perhaps Phase IIa before it will need a marketing partner. And the company would like to get more positive data before it inks a partnership deal. The IND will be important and Tranzyme is looking to build on its solo chemistry partnership with one or two more deals later this year.