DELRAY BEACH, Fla., March 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- AzurRx BioPharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: AZRX), (“AzurRx” or the “Company”), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of targeted, non-systemic therapies for gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, today announced it has completed enrollment in its Phase 2 trial evaluating MS1819 in combination with the current standard of care, porcine-derived pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT), for the treatment of severe exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF).
“We are very pleased to have completed enrollment in our Phase 2 MS1819 plus PERT combination therapy clinical trial,” said James Sapirstein, President, CEO and Chairman of AzurRx. “Based on the very encouraging clinical results to date, we believe that the combination therapy has significant potential to help the 25-30% of refractory cystic fibrosis patients with severe EPI who are unable to achieve adequate nutrition using PERT alone. Adding a small dose of MS1819 can help these patients meet their nutritional needs, reduce the debilitating symptoms of EPI and improve their overall quality of life, with an increased safety profile.”
Mr. Sapirstein continued, “The combination therapy program represents a second therapeutic opportunity for the MS1819 program. We reported the completion of enrollment of our Phase 2 monotherapy program – OPTION 2 – last week and will announce topline results for that trial at the end of March. We continue to remain on target to report topline results from the combination therapy study during the second quarter of 2021.”
“The overarching goal of our MS1819 program is to provide a safe and effective therapy to control EPI, a debilitating gastrointestinal condition common to patients with cystic fibrosis that can result in numerous, life-altering complications, including malnutrition,” added Dr. James Pennington, Chief Medical Officer of AzurRx. “Early clinical evidence has been promising, and with the combination and OPTION 2 monotherapy trials progressing, we may soon have the opportunity to introduce a drug product that could potentially improve the lives of thousands of patients suffering from cystic fibrosis.”
The Phase 2 combination clinical trial of MS1819 is a multi-center study designed to investigate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of escalating doses of MS1819, in conjunction with a stable dose of PERT in order to increase the patient’s coefficient of fat absorption (CFA) levels and relieve abdominal symptoms. The study enrolled 18 patients, 12 years of age or older, with severe EPI. Patients enrolled in the study receive escalating doses of 700mg, 1200mg, and 2240mg of MS1819 once daily for 15 days per dosing level, in addition to their standard PERT dose. Baseline CFA is established by measuring CFA levels while on standard of care therapy only, before beginning combination therapy. Eligibility requires a CFA of less than 80%. The primary efficacy endpoint of the trial is improvement in CFA; secondary endpoints of the study are improvements in the stool weight, stool consistency, number of bowel movements, the incidence of steatorrhea, and increase of body weight.
Previously reported results from the initial five patients in the trial revealed that the combination therapy led to clinically meaningful improvements in the primary efficacy endpoint, the CFA, and improvements in the key secondary endpoints, including body weight, stool consistency and reductions in the number of bowel movements and the incidence of steatorrhea (excessive amounts of fat in the feces).
Additional information about this clinical trial can be found at: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04302662
About the MS1819 Combination Therapy Study
The digestive standard of care for both CF and chronic pancreatitis (CP) patients with EPI are commercially-available PERTs. Ideally, a stable daily dose of PERT will enable CF patients to eat a normal to high-fat diet and minimize unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. In practice, however, a substantial number of CF patients do not achieve normal absorption of fat with PERTs1,2. Achieving an optimal nutritional status, including normal fat absorption levels, in CF patients is important for maintaining better pulmonary function, physical performance and prolonging survival. Furthermore, a decline of body mass index around the age of 18 years predicts a substantial drop in lung function3,4.
A combination therapy of PERT and MS1819 has the potential to: (i) correct macronutrient and micronutrient maldigestion; (ii) eliminate abdominal symptoms attributable to maldigestion; and (iii) sustain optimal nutritional status on a normal diet in CF patients with severe EPI. Planned enrollment is expected to include approximately 20 CF patients with severe EPI, with study completion anticipated in 1H 2021.
MS1819 is a recombinant lipase enzyme for the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency associated with cystic fibrosis and chronic pancreatitis. MS1819, supplied as an oral, non-systemic, biologic capsule, is derived from the Yarrowia lipolytica yeast lipase and breaks up fat molecules in the digestive tract of EPI patients so that they can be absorbed as nutrients. Unlike the standard of care, the MS1819 synthetic lipase does not contain any animal products.
About Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
EPI is a condition characterized by deficiency of the exocrine pancreatic enzymes, resulting in a patient’s inability to digest food properly, or maldigestion. The deficiency in this enzyme can be responsible for greasy diarrhea, fecal urge and weight loss.
There are more than 30,000 patients in the U.S. with EPI caused by cystic fibrosis according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and approximately 90,000 patients in the U.S with EPI caused by chronic pancreatitis according to the National Pancreas Foundation. Patients are currently treated with porcine pancreatic enzyme replacement pills.
About AzurRx BioPharma, Inc.
AzurRx BioPharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: AZRX) is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company specializing in the development of targeted, non-systemic therapies for gastrointestinal (GI) diseases. The Company has a pipeline of three gut-restricted GI assets. The lead therapeutic candidate is MS1819, a recombinant lipase for the treatment of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) in patients with cystic fibrosis and chronic pancreatitis, currently in two Phase 2 clinical trials. AzurRx is launching two clinical programs using proprietary formulations of niclosamide, a pro-inflammatory pathway inhibitor, FW-420, for grade 1 Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor Colitis and diarrhea in oncology patients and FW-1022, for COVID-19 gastrointestinal infections. The Company is headquartered in Delray Beach, Florida with clinical operations in Hayward, California. For more information, visit www.azurrx.com.
This press release may contain certain statements relating to future results which are forward-looking statements. It is possible that the Company’s actual results and financial condition may differ, possibly materially, from the anticipated results and financial condition indicated in these forward-looking statements, depending on factors including whether results obtained in preclinical and nonclinical studies and clinical trials will be indicative of results obtained in future clinical trials; whether preliminary or interim results from a clinical trial will be indicative of the final results of the trial; and the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the Company’s operations and current and planned clinical trials, including potential delays in clinical trial recruitment and participation. Additional information concerning the Company and its business, including a discussion of factors that could materially affect the Company’s financial results are contained in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 under the heading “Risk Factors,” as well as the Company’s subsequent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date of this press release, and we do not undertake any obligation to publicly update or correct any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances that subsequently occur or of which we hereafter become aware.
1 Freedman, S.D., Am. J. Manag. Care, 2017; 23: S2220-S228
2 Littlewood, J. et al, 2006, Pediatric Pulmonology, 2006, 41:35-49
3 Engelen, M. et al, 2014, Curr. Opin. Clin. Nutr. Metab. Care; 17(6):515-520
4 Vandenbranden, S.L. et al, 2012, Pediatric Pulmonology, 2012; 47(2): 135-143