ENYO Pharma Strengthens Its Arsenal of Hepatitis B Potential Therapies

Monday, November 30, 2015

LYON, France--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- ENYO Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing treatments for acute and chronic viral infections, is announcing that it has obtained a license to a key patent enabling it to use agonists of the farnesoid X receptor (FXR) as hepatitis B treatments.

This nuclear receptor, also known as a bile acid receptor, acts via several metabolic pathways and in particular by controlling the fate of bile acids in the liver and intestine. It also influences the insulin sensitivity of these tissues where it is highly expressed.

“We are delighted to have obtained access to this patent to use FXR agonists, which is crucial to our future developments in liver infections. It will strengthen the intellectual property portfolio underpinning our flagship hepatitis B program, a condition with tremendous unmet need for new therapies. EYP001, the first product developed under this program, which we licensed from Poxel in early 2015, is nearing the end of its regulatory toxicology trials. Clinical trials are scheduled to begin in early 2016”, commented Jacky Vonderscher, PhD, CEO of ENYO Pharma.

According to the WHO, over 350 million people chronically infected with the hepatitis B virus are awaiting treatment, half them in Asia and chiefly in China. Despite progress with vaccine coverage, close to 300 million people will remain chronically infected in the 2030s, putting them at major risk of developing cirrhosis and liver cancer.

The FXR receptor directly regulates replication of the hepatitis B virus. The dependence of the virus’ life cycle on the bile acids pathway was highlighted by Patrice André and Vincent Lotteau, ENYO Pharma’s founders and Inserm research scientists. Modulating the FXR receptor has thus become a promising new therapeutic avenue for controlling and potentially curing chronic hepatitis B, one of the main causes worldwide of liver cancer and cirrhosis.

The effectiveness of FXR agonists against hepatitis B was discovered and patented by a consortium of these Inserm research scientists and their industry partners Poxel and Edelris. Inserm Transfert was mandated to represent all the parties (Inserm, CNRS, UCBL, ENS-Lyon, Poxel and Elderis) to this patent licensing agreement with ENYO Pharma. This agreement follows on from an initial licensing agreement in May 2015 under which ENYO Pharma acquired Poxel’s rights to a family of FXR agonist compounds for all therapeutic indications, with Poxel retaining a right of first refusal on the cardiovascular and metabolic condition indications.

What sets ENYO Pharma’s approach apart is that it targets the host cellular functions, which are essential for replication of the virus, rather than the constituents of the virus. Viruses have interactions between their own proteins and the host cellular proteins that can hijack human cell mechanisms for their own benefit using highly effective strategies. By blocking these crucial interactions for the virus, this new approach can be used to prevent resistance from arising and diversify the therapeutic arsenal.

ENYO Pharma aims to complete rapidly all the studies required to submit a Clinical Trial Application (CTA) so that it can commence phase I clinical trials of the principal compound in spring 2016 on healthy volunteers and thereby begin treating patients with chronic hepatitis B as part of phase II trials by 2017.

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About ENYO Pharma SAS - www.enyopharma.com

Based in Lyon (France), ENYO Pharma was founded in January 2014 by Inserm research scientists to develop treatments for acute and chronic viral infections. Seed funds including Inserm Transfert Initiative, ADV Life Sciences and Vonderscher & Co. were joined in early 2015 by Sofinnova Partners, a venture capital firm based in Paris. ENYO Pharma’s strategy is to disrupt the nexus of interactions between viral proteins and human cellular proteins to prevent the virus from multiplying. ENYO Pharma has thus licensed several Inserm patents originating from discoveries made by the research scientists who founded the company and has developed a unique platform to identify new intracellular therapeutic targets and molecules acting against these targets.

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