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Multifunctional Drugs May Offer Better-Than-Additive Effects

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 12:00am
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sometimes a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The startup Catabasis Pharmaceuticals is hoping that will hold true for the multifunctional drugs it’s developing.

The company, which is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has developed a chemical linker technology that can bring together two different therapeutic components so they have a greater effect on their target pathways than they would if both compounds were administered separately. The company hopes their lead therapy will target the complex inflammation pathways in patients with irritable bowel syndromes such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

In a preliminary test of 105 patients, the potential drug, taken as a pill, safely decreased the activity of a key molecule in an inflammation pathway that plays an important role in such disorders. That effect was not seen when the two components were given to subjects simultaneously but without being linked.

“When you suppress pro-inflammatory and activate anti-inflammatory responses, you produced an effect which is typically two to three times more potent than hitting either one of those nodes individually,” says Mike Jirousek, cofounder and chief scientific officer of Catabasis.

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