SP-333 Targets Root Cause Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Jordo is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Irritable bowel syndrome has no organic cause and treating it usually depends on reducing symptoms of chronic abdominal pain, bloating, and gastric discomfort. While there is no drug to cure the condition yet, Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be managed with a number of drugs available. Synergy Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SGYP) is among one of the few companies that are actively involved in looking for the right treatment for this disorder. In this article, I shall discuss what Irritable Bowel Syndrome is and why Synergy should go ahead with its clinical trials to treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

What Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a collection of gastrointestinal symptoms that do not have any organic cause. The patients often run through a number of tests for allergies, blood work and other diagnostic procedures without anything that can explain their symptoms. They are often referred to psychologists and are prescribed anti-anxiety drugs in order to reduce psychological distress associated with IBS. It is thought that IBS is a psychosomatic disorder that has its roots in anxiety. However, intensive psychological treatment too does not help IBS sufferers all the time. Those who find that their symptoms are not alleviated by stress reduction techniques, dietary changes and exercise often resort to medications that reduce chronic abdominal pain, constipation, bloating and altered bowel habits.

Synergy's New Drug May Treat the Root Cause of GI Symptoms

People diagnosed with IBS are often prescribed laxatives, antispasmodics, tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin agonists and other drugs in order to reduce psychological distress and gastrointestinal difficulties. Synergy announced the commencement of Phase I clinical trial of SP-333, which is a guanylate cyclase C (GC-C) agonist. SP-333 is expected to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and ulcerative colitis. SP-333 has shown promising results in animal studies and is expected to be the first line choice to treat mild-moderate UC patients. The drug is expected to treat GO inflammatory conditions including IBS. SP-333 is a synthetic analog of uroguanylin. Uroguanylin is produced in the intestinal tract and is a peptide hormone that alleviates gastrointestinal difficulties.

SP-333 Meets Unfulfilled Needs

Synergy will be able to fulfill unmet needs among IBS and IBD sufferers as most treatments that are available right now only target superficially and do not treat the root cause. Synergy's SP-333 behaves like a natural peptide and is expected to treat IBS, IBD and UC efficiently. An estimated 605 of IBS sufferers also suffer from psychological difficulties such as anxiety and depression but it is possible that these conditions are due to physical symptoms over which the patient has no control whatsoever. When the root cause is treated, a patient will not need to be prescribed psychiatric drugs that have severe side effects.

Synergy Has Very Little Competition

Back in August 2012, FDA approved Linzess (linaclotide) to treat chronic idiopathic constipation among adults. The drug is manufactured by Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IRWD) and should be taken once daily on an empty stomach. The drug comes with a warning that it should be not be used among patients who are 16 years of age or younger. Linzess may cause serious side effects like diarrhea, severe gastritis and other GI related symptoms.

In February 2012, Salix (NASDAQ: SLXP) announced its Phase 3 study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of its IBS drug Rifaximin. The semisynthetic antibiotic has poor oral bioavailability, which means that it won't be absorbed into the blood stream easily if taken orally. It is sometimes used to alleviate diarrhea but FDA has not approved it for IBS treatment.

AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) and Nektar Therepeutics may have added data to a Phase III trial of constipation drug naloxegol, effectively failing the trial. The big pharma may have to review its data again in order to answer some questions that have been bothering both the medical and investment communities.

A group of researchers at the Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts studied the efficacy of duloxetine (Cymbalta), sold by Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY), for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The results seemed to be encouraging but it comes with a number of side effects such as nausea, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, and dizziness. Being an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), Cymbalta can cause significant sexual difficulties.

Conclusion

Synergy is targeting unmet needs of an entire subsection of population that is suffering from IBS, constipation and ulcerative colitis. The drug is expected to treat the root cause of gastrointestinal symptoms as it is a synthetic form of a certain peptide that is often deficient among IBS and other chronic GI disorder patients. If the drug clears all the trials successfully, Synergy stands to be one of the few pharmaceutical companies that can boast of treating IBS. This is one stock that you should closely observe to check what the future of SP-333 is going to be.


jordobivona has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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