ChemoCentryx attempts oral autoimmune drug

Xconomy's Luke Timmerman profiles ChemoCentryx, a Mountain View, CA-based biotech that's attempting to create an once-daily oral drug for autoimmune diseases. The company, founded in 1997, has raised $330 million from various sources since its inception. Its work is notable in that every other autoimmune drug is either injectable or given by infusion. ChemoCentryx thinks that by creating a more user-friendly delivery system, it will be able to capture a big chunk of the massive autoimmune disease market. Timmerman notes that the rheumatoid arthritis market alone is valued at $7 billion, and there are 80 other autoimmune diseases, although not all will be as profitable as RA. While other biotechs like Lycera and CalciMedica are working on similar technology, ChemoCentryx's chemokine research is the most advanced.

ChemoCentryx is targeting chemokines, "signaling molecules that control how immune cells move in and out of inflamed tissues--and the receptors on immune system cells that chemokines bind to," as Xconomy explains. GlaxoSmithKline is partnered on the company's first drug, called Traficet-EN (CCX282-B), which is under investigation for the treatment of Crohn's disease. Preliminary results for a 436-person trial look promising. A large Phase III study will get under way next year.

- here's the Xconomy article