Reporting by Arjun Vijay
While rising interest in biotechnology has provided a much-needed fillip to the research and development of therapies, one major hurdle stops them from effectively reaching the patients. Many of these products developed are large molecules that can only be delivered by injection, which leads to restrictions in terms of dosage.
Entera Bio (NASDAQ: ENTX) aims to address this pain point by developing proprietary technology for the oral delivery of large molecule therapeutics. In an interview with AlphaStreet, CEO of the clinical-stage company Spiros Jamas said oral delivery format not only presents a vast market opportunity but also significantly increases the attractiveness, compliance, and even cost of delivering therapies.
Oral therapy research
Earlier this month, ENTX stock shot up almost fourfold after the company announced successful phase 2 data for orally delivered human parathyroid hormone (PTH) to treat osteoporosis. This is Entera’s most advanced therapy and caters to a population of over 200 million.
“It’s a very underserved market because most drugs to treat osteoporosis today require injections. That’s one of the main reasons that the target population is not adequately treated. And we have similar data on other molecules. So there’s a really big opportunity for Entera,” Jamas pointed out.
While the company could face some pricing pressure at the time of commercial launch due to the presence of injectables and generics in the market, the executive said the product can still be competitively priced due to its high global demand.
Apart from osteoporosis, the Israel-based firm is studying the efficacy of oral PTH on Hypoparathyroidism, a rare disease that affects around 60,000 people in the United States, as well as gastrointestinal cancer. Entera management also sees technology licensing through collaborations with biotech and pharmaceutical companies as another vertical for revenue generation moving forward.
The company currently has a long-term license agreement with Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), whereby the two firms are developing an oral delivery for one of Amgen’s anti-inflammatory agents. The collaboration, which has reached its third year, is providing Entera with steady cash flows in the form of milestone payments and research funding. Entera will also receive royalty payments once its products are approved.
During fiscal 2020, revenues that came from Amgen stood at $365,000 as compared to $236,000 a year earlier. The CEO feels confident its current funding will be enough to cover the expenses for another year and does not see the requirement for immediate fundraising.
Jamas stated that seeking regulatory approval from Europe is also on the cards. “We are going to be approaching the European medical agencies for the development of Eb 613 (osteoporosis) in Europe. I should also say that the phase 3 study we’re planning to do, will include some European sites. So we do plan to enroll patients also in Europe.”
In the trailing 12 months, Entera Bio has seen its stock more than double, though this was mostly attributable to the Phase 2 success. The company has a 12-month average price target of $11, representing 133% further upside potential.
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