Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG is specialized in small-molecule drug disco¬very, particularly focusing on nuclear receptors - a target class that accounts for about 20% revenues of today´s total ethical drug market.
Phenex currently pursues two independent small-molecule programs on the nuclear receptors FXR and RORgamma.
The primary indications of Phenex´s FXR program are Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). Both diseases are characterized by substantial fat accu¬mulation in the liver (“steatosis”) which – if untreated – can further progress into liver inflammation and fibrosis, ultimately resulting in liver cirrhosis and failure which in consequence means a need for liver transplantation.
Worldwide the incidence for NAFLD is rising dramatically and is highly correlated to the Metabolic Syndrome. Activation of the FXR recep¬tor through a drug combats the underlying causes of NAFLD by lowering liver lipids and improving hepatic insulin sensitivity, combined with a liver specific anti-fibrotic and anti-inflammatory effect. A first human clinical trial with Phenex´ proprietary FXR development candidate PX-102 is scheduled for spring 2011. Phenex intends to outlicense this program after first human proof of concept data.
Phenex´s second program on RORgamma is targeting autoim¬mune diseases, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and Morbus Crohn – these being diseases for which no curative or at least no satisfying treatment is yet available.
RORgamma controls the differentiation of a major contributor of chronic inflammation in these diseases: the Th17 immune cell lineage. Inhibition of RORgamma has the po¬tential to selectively suppress Th17 mediated chronic inflammation while leaving the rest of the immune system intact. Phenex has dis-covered potent series of RORgamma inhibitors and aims to nominate a candidate for clinical development until the end of 2011.
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