Cytochroma, Inc., a pharmaceuticals company engaged in the development and commercialization of products to treat and prevent the consequences of illnesses related to vitamin D deficiency, will be acquired by OPKO Health, Inc. for an undisclosed amount. Markham, Ontario’s Cytochroma has a history of venture capital investment dating back to its seed financing in 1997. Backers have included BDC Venture Capital, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, GeneChem, GrowthWorks, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp., Novo A/S, T2C2 Capital, VenGrowth Private Equity Partners and VentureLink.
OPKO Health to acquire privately held Cytochroma
Acquisition Includes ReplideaTM and AlpharenTM, Both in Phase 3 Clinical Trials with Kidney Disease Patients
MARKHAM, ON, Jan. 8, 2013 /CNW/ – Cytochroma today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with OPKO Health, Inc. (NYSE:OPK) under which Cytochroma, a privately held pharmaceutical company with operations in Markham, ON and Bannockburn, IL, will be acquired by OPKO. Through this transaction, OPKO will acquire worldwide rights to Cytochroma’s two lead product candidates: ReplideaTM (coded CTAP101 Capsules), a vitamin D prohormone to treat secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) in patients with stage 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease (CKD) and vitamin D insufficiency; and, AlpharenTM (Fermagate Tablets), a non-absorbed phosphate binder to treat hyperphosphatemia in dialysis patients. Both products are in phase 3 development in the United States. Cytochroma’s officers will join the OPKO management team, and all other Cytochroma employees will be retained by OPKO.
Replidea™ has been shown in a phase 2b clinical trial to effectively and safely treat SHPT and the underlying vitamin D insufficiency in pre-dialysis patients. Vitamin D insufficiency arises in CKD due to the abnormal upregulation of CYP24, an enzyme which destroys vitamin D and its metabolites. Studies in CKD patients have demonstrated that currently available over-the-counter and prescription vitamin D products cannot reliably raise blood vitamin D prohormone levels or effectively treat SHPT.
“OPKO intends to market Replidea™ along with OPKO’s proprietary point-of-care vitamin D diagnostic test currently in development,” stated Phillip Frost, MD, OPKO’s CEO and Chairman. “We envision these remarkable products as part of the foundation for a new and markedly improved standard of care for chronic kidney disease patients.”
“We are pleased that OPKO and Cytochroma have joined forces to improve the care of kidney patients,” commented Alan J. Lewis, PhD, Cytochroma’s Chairman. “The combined companies are well positioned to become a major new global player in the chronic kidney disease space.”
Alpharen™ has been shown safe and effective in treating hyperphosphatemia (elevated serum phosphorus) in the phase 2 and 3 clinical trials undertaken to date in dialysis patients. Hyperphosphatemia exacerbates SHPT and promotes bone disease, soft tissue mineralization and progression of kidney disease. Approximately 90% of dialysis patients in the United States require regular treatment. Cytochroma acquired global rights to AlpharenTM from INEOS Healthcare in 2010.
About Chronic Kidney Disease
CKD is a condition characterized by a progressive decline in kidney function. The kidney is normally responsible for excreting waste and excess water from the body, and for regulating various hormones. CKD is classified in five different stages – mild (stage 1) to severe (stage 5) disease – as measured by the kidney’s glomerular filtration rate. According to the National Kidney Foundation, CKD afflicts over 26 million people in the US, including more than eight million patients with moderate (stages 3 and 4) and severe (stage 5) forms of CKD. In stage 5 CKD, kidney function is minimal to absent and patients require regular dialysis or a kidney transplant for survival.
About Vitamin D Insufficiency
Vitamin D insufficiency is a condition in which the body has low vitamin D stores, characterized by inadequate blood levels of vitamin D prohormones, collectively known as 25-hydroxyvitamin D. An estimated 70-90% of CKD patients have vitamin D insufficiency, which can lead to SHPT and resultant debilitating bone diseases.
About Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (SHPT)
SHPT is a condition commonly associated with CKD in which the parathyroid glands secrete excessive amounts of parathyroid hormone (PTH). SHPT arises as a result of vitamin D insufficiency or impaired kidney function that prevents sufficient production of vitamin D hormones to properly regulate calcium and phosphorus metabolism, and PTH secretion. Prolonged elevation of blood PTH causes excessive calcium and phosphorus to be released from bone, leading to elevated serum calcium and phosphorus, softening of the bones (osteomalacia) and calcification of vascular and renal tissues. SHPT affects 40-60% of patients with moderate CKD and approximately 90% of patients with severe CKD.
Hyperphosphatemia, or elevated serum phosphorus, is common in dialysis patients and tightly linked to the progression of SHPT. The kidneys provide the primary route of excretion for excess phosphorus absorbed from ingested food. As kidney function worsens, serum phosphorus levels increase and directly stimulate PTH secretion. Stage 5 CKD patients must reduce their dietary phosphate intake and usually require regular treatment with phosphate binding agents to lower serum phosphorus to meet the recommendations of the National Kidney Foundation’s Clinical Practice Guidelines that serum phosphorus levels should be maintained at <5.5 mg/dL.
Cytochroma is a clinical-stage specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing proprietary products to treat and prevent the clinical consequences of vitamin D insufficiency and SHPT associated with CKD. The Company, founded in 1996 by Martin J. Petkovich, PhD, Cytochroma’s CSO and Glenville Jones, PhD, former Head of Biochemistry, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, specializes in developing new vitamin D therapies which are designed to safely and effectively treat patients with stage 3, 4 or 5 CKD. Cytochroma also has a portfolio CYP24 and phosphate-uptake inhibitors in early stages of development. Cytochroma’s phase 3 clinical programs are being funded, in part, by committed financings of nearly $CDN 32 million of which the first two stages closed in 2012. The lead investors in the financings were Covington Fund II (Toronto), Business Development Bank of Canada (Montreal) and GrowthWorks (Toronto). Participating investors included the Bombardier Trust (Canada) Funds (Montreal), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (Québec), Comerica Bank (Toronto), MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (Toronto), Partners Group (Zug), Roseway Capital Sarl (Luxembourg) and VentureLink Innovation Fund (Toronto).
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
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