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Speedel Begins Phase IIA Trial With Next Generation Renin Inhibitor


Basel/Switzerland and Bridgewater NJ/USA, 31 October 2006 - Speedel (SWX: SPPN) announces that it has reached another significant milestone in the development of its family of renin inhibitors with the start of a Phase IIa clinical trial with SPP635 for the treatment of hypertension. This compound is the first of a next generation of renin inhibitors following Speedel’s lead product SPP100 (aliskiren, Tekturna[1]), which is partnered with Novartis and awaiting marketing approval from the FDA and the EMEA[2]. SPP635 is the most advanced compound in the SPP600 series and is one of several new proprietary renin inhibitors invented by Speedel Experimenta, the company’s late-stage research unit.

The start of the Phase IIa trial follows the successful completion of a Phase I safety and tolerability study. Plasma concentrations reached levels that were predicted by earlier human microdosing studies announced in February 2005; the Phase I results support earlier estimations that SPP635 has a bioavailability of about 25-30% in man. Moreover, SPP635 has a half-life of about 24 hours, making it ideal for true once per day dosing.

Dr. Alice Huxley, CEO, said: “This milestone is of major importance for Speedel as SPP635 is the first drug which we have progressed into Phase II from our own research laboratory and reinforces our position as a world leader in renin inhibition. Our strategy is to develop a Speedel family of compounds as we believe that renin inhibition may be the new gold standard for the treatment of hypertension and related disorders in the next decade.”

The proof-of-concept Phase IIa trial for the treatment of hypertension will be carried out in Europe with results due around Q3 2007. It will study the safety and efficacy of SPP635 in about 35 patients with mild to moderate hypertension by measuring office and ambulatory blood pressure[3]. The trial has a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, parallel design and will evaluate patients treated with SPP635 for 4 weeks.

Speedel’s next generation renin inhibitors include other compounds in the SPP600 series, the SPP1100 series currently in toxicology testing with a compound planned for entry into man towards the end of 2006 or early in 2007, and the SPP800 series currently in late-stage pre-clinical profiling. Each series is a different chemical class with distinct properties and is protected by different patent applications.

About SPP600 series
SPP635 is the most advanced compound of the SPP600 series of renin inhibitors being developed by Speedel. The company has made significant progress in the optimisation and development of this series of newly synthesised compounds by using rational drug design, including computer assisted molecular modelling techniques, state-of-the art preclinical disease models and human microdosing.

In December 2001, Speedel acquired a worldwide exclusive license from Roche covering its entire programme in renin inhibition. This license allows Speedel to use the acquired know-how for lead optimisation of its own compounds designated as the SPP600 series. Speedel holds full development and commercialization rights for these product candidates under the license agreement with Roche.

About SPP100 (aliskiren, Tekturna[4])
SPP100 (aliskiren, Tekturna) is the first-in-class oral renin inhibitor. The development of SPP100 is the result of over 20 years of research on renin. Renin is the key enzyme at the top of the Renin Angiotensin System (RAS), one of the key regulators of blood pressure. The RAS is a cascade, starting with renin, leading to angiotensin I and finally to angiotensin II. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-Is) and angiotensin II receptor antagonists (ARBs) have been developed to block this system “down stream” and have shown clinical efficacy in patients with hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.

By inhibiting renin at the top of the RAS, SPP100 decreases the system’s activity, as measured by Plasma Renin Activity. PRA is believed to be very important in end-organ protection (e.g. heart and kidney). PRA is an independent and direct surrogate marker for several cardio-renal diseases, such as myocardial infarction and chronic renal disease. It is only a renin inhibitor that lowers PRA efficiently whereas most current leading anti-hypertensive drug classes such as ACE-Is and ARBs increase PRA levels.

Speedel in-licensed SPP100 from Novartis in 1999 and successfully completed 18 clinical trials, through Phase I and II in about 500 patients and healthy volunteers. Based on the results generated during this programme, Novartis exercised a license-back option in 2002, and in March 2004 Novartis started trials with SPP100 in Phase III as monotherapy for hypertension and in Phase IIb as combination therapy. Phase III trials are ongoing in the US, EU, and Japan, with regulatory submissions already filed in the US in Q1 2006 and in the EU during Q3 2006.

Speedel believes that it is the first company to establish successfully a clinical proof of concept in Phase II and to have developed and filed for patent protection a commercially viable manufacturing process for a renin inhibitor, an area of industry research for over 20 years. In a Phase II study of 200 patients conducted by Speedel, it was demonstrated that SPP100 achieves dose-dependent blood pressure reduction. The study also showed that 150mg and 300mg SPP100 once daily were comparable to Losartan 100mg, which is double the starting dose of this ARB (Stanton, Jensen, Nussberger, O’Brien, Hypertension.2003; 42: 1137-1143).

About Hypertension
Hypertension is a common disorder in which blood pressure is abnormally high, placing undue stress on the heart, blood vessels and other organs such as the kidney and the brain. Blood pressure is determined in two phases as the heart contracts and relaxes. Systolic blood pressure represents the force that blood exerts on the walls of arteries as the heart contracts to pump out blood. Diastolic blood pressure represents the force as the heart relaxes to allow the blood to flow into the heart.

Due to its wide prevalence and impact on cardiovascular health, hypertension is a major cause of disease and death in Europe and North America. More than one in three Europeans and North Americans over the age of 35 suffers from hypertension - but for the vast majority of patients who undergo hypertension treatment, the causes of high blood pressure are unknown. More than 40 % of patients undergoing treatment with current therapies do not reach targeted blood pressure levels, and so there is a considerable unmet medical need.

The latest potential therapeutic agents for hypertension are renin inhibitors. Renin is an enzyme produced in the kidneys in response to reduced renal perfusion. Through a cascade of biological events, renin acts to bring about sodium retention, an increase in blood pressure, and restoration of renal perfusion, which shuts off the signal for renin release. For hypertensive individuals, renin inhibitors are currently being investigated as a therapy that may provide benefits over current therapies to reduce blood pressure, decrease salt retention and may protect end organs such as the kidney, heart and brain.

About Speedel
Speedel is a public biopharmaceutical company that seeks to create value for patients, partners and investors by developing innovative therapies for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Speedel is a world leader in renin inhibition, a promising new approach with significant potential for treating cardiovascular diseases. Our lead compound SPP100 (aliskiren,Tekturna)[5], the first-in-class renin inhibitor, is partnered with Novartis for Phase III development and commercialisation in hypertension. Our pipeline covers three different modes of action, and in addition to SPP100, includes SPP301 in Phase III, SPP200 in Phase II, SPP635 in Phase II, and several pre-clinical projects.

Speedel develops novel product candidates through focused innovation and smart drug development from lead identification to the end of Phase II. We either partner with big pharma for Phase III and commercialisation in primary-care indications, or we may ourselves complete Phase III development in specialist indications. Candidate compounds for development and the company’s intellectual property come from our late-stage research unit Speedel Experimenta and from in-licensing.

Our team of approximately 70 employees, including over 30 experienced pharmaceutical scientists, is located at our headquarters and laboratories in Basel, Switzerland and at offices in New Jersey, USA and Tokyo, Japan. In March 2006 the company raised gross proceeds of CHF83.95 million (approximately EUR 53m or USD 64m) through the sale of 500,000 treasury shares. As a private company, we have previously raised gross proceeds of CHF 239 million (approximately EUR 154 million or USD 183 million) from private placements of equity securities and two convertible loans and we have had total revenues, principally from milestone payments, of CHF 57.7 million (approximately EUR 37 million or USD 44 million). The company’s shares were listed on the SWX Swiss Exchange under the symbol SPPN on 08 September 2005.

Forward looking statements
This press release includes forward-looking statements that involve substantial risks and uncertainties. These forward-looking statements are based on our current expectations and projections about future events. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, regarding our strategy, future operations, future financial position, future revenues, projected costs, prospects, plans and objectives of management are forward-looking statements. The word “may” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements, although not all forward-looking statements contain these identifying words. We may not actually achieve the plans, intentions or expectations described in these forward-looking statements and you should not place undue reliance on them. There can be no assurance that actual results of our research and development activities and our results of operations will not differ materially from these expectations. Factors that could cause actual results to differ from expectations include, among others: our or our partners’ ability to develop safe and efficacious products; our or our partners’ ability to achieve positive results in clinical trials; our or our partners’ ability to obtain marketing approval and market acceptance for our product candidates; our ability to enter into future collaboration and licensing agreements; the impact of competition and technological change; existing and future regulations affecting our business; changes in governmental oversight of pharmaceutical product development; the future scope of our patent coverage or that of third parties; the effects of any future litigation; general economic and business conditions, both internationally and within our industry, including exchange rate variations; and our future financing plans.

[1] Tekturna (SPP100, aliskiren) is a Novartis trade name
[2] Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency (EMEA)
[3] Ambulatory blood pressure is measured by a portable device worn by the patient over 24 hours at pre-determined intervals. Office blood pressure is measured when the patient is in the physician’s office at pre-determined intervals
[4] Tekturna (SPP100, aliskiren) is a Novartis trade name
[5] Tekturna (SPP100, aliskiren) is a Novartis trade name


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