08 Nov Deltanoid presses on with drug research
Madison, Wis. – When the world’s largest pharmaceutical company quit developing a bone disease treatment developed by University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Hector DeLuca, the biochemist saw an opportunity in disappointment for his small drug development firm.
In the beginning, it looked like a promising partnership. DeLuca conceived his company, Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals, to address the difficulties of getting pharmaceutical products to market. So the early licensing agreement with Pfizer to finance tests for Deltanoid’s osteoporosis compound merely reinforced the notion that there are many ways to turn good ideas into useful products.
“We were children when we made that deal,” DeLuca joked before an audience assembled at the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Device Association’s monthly meeting.
The partnership, which began in January 2003, ended in December 2005 partly for “business reasons,” DeLuca said, and partly because Pfizer wanted to see a more robust response from the treatment within six months.
The arrangement faltered because the compound showed more promise for increasing bone mass and reducing fracture rates in animal testing when viewed on a longer time scale, closer to one or two years.
Although Pfizer pulled out before efficacy and safety could be demonstrated in Phase II studies, the pharmaceutical giant financed Phase 1A and 1B studies, supplying further proof of concept for Deltanoid.
And next month, Deltanoid plans to pursue Phase II trials on its own. “Phase II is pivotal,” DeLuca said.
If successful at outmaneuvering Pfizer, DeLuca, who has already developed eight drugs with over $5 billion in worldwide sales, will look for more discoveries to leverage by filling gaps in the drug development product pipeline. Deltaniod will consider pharmaceutical inventions from UW-Madison and other research institutions around the country.
Deltanoid, which was conceived in 1999 and specializes in the use of vitamin D compounds, now has 19 employees. The company’s goal will be to take university inventions and commercialize them in partnership with big pharmaceutical companies.
“The race is on to find uses for the vitamin D compound,” DeLuca said. “We think we’ve found them.”
Osteoporosis drugs, for instance, have tremendous market potential if the right people are there to bring them to commercialization. Because the disease affects some 25 million people in the United States and is sure to impact the aging baby boom population, the current market for drugs represents $5 billion in sales per year, a number that is projected to grow to $15 billion by 2009.
Deltanoid, which also is working on treatments for psoriasis and renal disease, will select raw university inventions, evaluate their feasibility and safety, license the relevant intellectual property, perform preclinical development studies, develop Phase I and II tests, and sublicense the product to industry customers.
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