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September 2, 2014 5:20 pm
Shares in 4D Pharma, the biotech venture backed by investor heavyweights Neil Woodford and Lansdowne Partners, rose 10 per cent on Tuesday on news that two of its treatments for irritable bowel syndrome and paediatric Crohn’s disease are to start clinical trials next year.
The trials will assess the safety of Blautix and Thetanix – biotherapeutics using live bacteria as opposed to traditional medicines based on chemicals and antibodies – and how they are tolerated by patients.
It is the latest boost to 4D’s shares, which have risen to 304p since they were listed on the Alternative Investment Market at 100p each in February.
Last month, the Manchester-based company, which was set up to support the development of ways to use bacteria to treat and even cure autoimmune diseases, won preliminary approval from US authorities to develop Rosburix, a treatment for ulcerative colitis in children. This follows approval last year to develop Thetanix to combat Crohn’s disease in children.
The group was set up by chief executive Duncan Peyton, a founder of biotech investor Aquarius Equity, and David Norwood, chairman and founder of IP Group, which was created to commercialise the research and intellectual property of university researchers.
4D Pharma raised £21.5m in June at 150p a share to increase its stake in GT Biologics, the Aberdonian developer of Thetanix and Rosburix, from just under 50 per cent to 84 per cent. A month later 4D paid about £2m for Microbiota, which is developing a patented bacteria to treat irritable bowel disease.
Alex Stevenson, 4D’s chief scientific officer, said: “The Blautix and Thetanix trials will represent important milestones for the company and a new class of therapeutic, designed to treat the underlying causes of diseases rather than just the symptoms.”
The company says between 10 and 15 per cent of the population have IBS with only a third seeking medical attention, the majority of which have persistent symptoms. There are few approved treatment options, all of which focus on moderating symptoms rather than curing the disease.
Paediatric Crohn’s disease, or PCD, is a chronic bowel disease that causes inflammation across the lining of the digestive tract. In addition to gastro intestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea, rectal bleeding and abdominal pain, children with PCD often experience growth failure, malnutrition, pubertal delay and bone demineralisation.
About a fifth of patients with Crohn’s disease present when they are younger than 20 years old. It is estimated that there are around 41,000 children in the US with PCD.
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