Current research efforts at Avaxia are focused primarily on inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, the scope of our technology platform extends to any biological target that is accessible via the GI tract.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Despite the promise of Avaximab™-TNF, Avaxia continues to work on additional gut-targeted antibodies for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Physicians and patients generally prefer to have a variety of different drugs available to treat a disease, since different drugs often work better for different patients. Moreover, Avaxia believes that combination therapies that target more than one inflammatory mediator in the gut, have the potential to dramatically increase overall efficacy.
Avaxia has generated antibodies to several other validated targets for IBD, and we have identified other exciting new targets. These projects build on the knowledge and experience that Avaxia gained in the anti-TNF program and will feed our near-term product pipeline.
Avaximab™-TNF for Other GI Inflammatory Diseases
Avaximab™-TNF will be explored for the treatment of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). NEC presents as inflammation in the intestines that causes tissue death (necrosis), leading to bacterial infection (sepsis). This disease primarily strikes newborn infants, especially premature infants with low birth weights. The only effective treatment is surgery to remove the necrotic intestinal tissue. Death results in up to 30% of cases. There is an urgent unmet medical need for better NEC treatments. Avaxia believes that prophylactic administration of Avaximab™-TNF in at-risk infants could significantly reduce the incidence of NEC. Approximately one million premature infants are born in the US and Europe each year, representing a potentially large market for an effective prophylactic for NEC.
Another potential application of Avaximab™-TNF is the treatment of mucositis. Mucositis is a painful and debilitating side effect of radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Depending on the type of cancer and treatment regimen, mucositis can occur in the mouth or intestines. In extreme cases, mucositis can even limit the treatment regimen.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by an inappropriate response to gluten in ingested grains. The disease has a variety of clinical manifestations, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, osteoporosis, anemia, and an increased risk of diabetes and malignancies. The overall prevalence of celiac disease in the U.S. and Europe is approximately 1:130. There are no drugs on the market for celiac disease; the only available treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet.
Avaxia has identified potential inflammatory cytokine targets for gut-targeted antibodies that may ameliorate the disease. Avaxia will select one of these projects to advance into development in the near future.
The human microbiome consists of bacteria and other organisms that share our bodies. Recent studies of the human microbiome have found that gut microbes may profoundly influence human health. Avaxia antibodies can access these targets to provide new opportunities for therapeutic intervention for many serious diseases.