Rare disease startup Therachon to absorb GLyPharma and its SBS candidate

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GLyPharma's apraglutide is currently planned for study in two phase 1/2 trials in short bowel syndrome, after being spun out from Ferring Pharmaceuticals in 2012. (Pixabay)

Fresh off a $60 million raise, the Novo Holdings-backed startup Therachon announced plans to buy GLyPharma Therapeutic and make the leap to becoming a multi-asset rare disease company.

After paying an undisclosed amount, Therachon will acquire the development and commercialization rights to GLyPharma’s apraglutide, a synthetic GLP-2 analog treatment for short bowel syndrome and other rare gastrointestinal diseases.

"Expanding our pipeline with this new asset supports our mission of harnessing internal and external scientific innovation to make a difference in the lives of people living with serious rare conditions," Therachon CEO Luca Santarelli, M.D., said in a statement.

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"Like achondroplasia, our other area of focus, people living with SBS have significant unmet medical needs,” Santarelli added. “We believe apraglutide offers a potential best-in-class profile for efficacy, as well as a favorable dosing regimen and improved tolerability compared with other GLP-2 analogs."

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Therachon’s previously chief candidate, an FGFR3 ligand trap named TA-46, is being developed to help restore normal bone growth in people with achondroplasia, a form of short-limbed dwarfism. The company’s Novo-led funding round in August came six months after the Basel, Switzerland-based Therachon began its testing in healthy volunteers.

Short bowel syndrome, meanwhile, results from extensive surgical removal of the intestine due to chronic inflammatory bowel disease, acute loss of blood flow or congenital abnormalities, and it is estimated to affect between 20,000 and 40,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe for a potentially $1 billion market.

First discovered by Ferring Pharmaceuticals, apraglutide (FE 203799) was licensed to the Montreal, Canada-based GLyPharma in 2012, spun out under a partnership with FONDS de solidarité FTQ, a Quebec development capital firm, and the CTI Life Sciences Fund. The drug has completed a phase 1 trial in healthy volunteers, demonstrating a once-weekly dosing profile, and is currently planned for study in two phase 1/2 trials in SBS.

Elsewhere, Zealand Pharma—supported by Sanofi prior to its $78 million IPO last year—had announced plans to launch a phase 3 trial in 2018 for its SBS candidate, glepaglutide, but has not yet begun recruiting participants.

In January, Zealand said it would strike out on its own with glepaglutide, and hopes for a launch in 2021 or 2022, following disappointing returns from its partnership with Sanofi to sell the diabetes drug Soliqua.