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GlaxoSmithKline acquires Sitari Pharmaceuticals after progress in coeliac disease

Published on 11/09/19 at 09:39am

Avalon Ventures has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with GSK for the acquisition of Sitari Pharmaceuticals for its novel treatment for coeliac disease.

San Diego-based Sitari was the first company formed under the GSK-Avalon venture collaboration back in 2013.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune digestive disorder caused by intolerance to gluten, a protein found in barley, wheat and rye that disrupts and damages the intestine, interfering with the proper absorption of nutrients from food.

The enzymatic activity of transglutaminase 2 (TG2) is the culprit in triggering the inflammatory responses to gluten exposure in coeliac disease, and Sitari’s TG2 inhibitor has the potential to suppress intestinal inflammation.

Sitari CEO Jay Lichter stated: “Our collaboration with GSK has been overwhelmingly positive as we were able to rapidly launch a series of new companies based on promising scientific research, and we successfully advanced five programmes into preclinical studies for a variety of unmet medical needs.

“Sitari’s preclinical programme has the potential to become a medicine to help millions of patients with coeliac disease, and we are excited that GSK, a leader in developing innovative medicines, will be advancing the programme.”

John Lepore, Senior Vice President, added: “Over the last six years, GSK and Avalon have pioneered a unique biotech funding model designed to identify novel targets from top-tier academic labs and translate cutting-edge discoveries into promising clinical candidates.

“The current standard of care for coeliac disease is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet, but a significant number of patients still experience gastrointestinal symptoms and disease progression. TG2 inhibition could represent a new hope for coeliac disease patients.”

There are over 300 symptoms associated with coeliac disease and it is present in one in 100 people worldwide. Of those who follow a strict gluten-free diet, a massive 20% still do not respond positively. In America alone there are an estimated three million sufferers with roughly 80% of these being undiagnosed. If left unmanaged the condition can lead to intestinal cancers, type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis and more.

Nik Kiran


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