Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Acromegaly Drug Trial - Oral Octreolin

I noticed on the Pituitary Foundation's website that a drug trial is recruiting for acromegaly patients. It's the phase 3 testing of oral octreolin, taking place at centres across the UK, including Oxford, Manchester and London.

This trial is a pretty exciting prospect! Currently, the somatostatin analogues which are used to treat acromegaly are only available in an injectable form, both as daily injections and in a long-lasting preparation that's injected once a month. This means regular visits to the nurse, plus all the hassle of ordering and storing the prescription, as the drug has to be kept refrigerated. Being able to simply take two pills every day would be so much more convenient (not to mention less painful... those needles are huge), especially for patients who travel or move around a lot.

The biopharma company carrying out the trial is Chiasma, a company specialising in turning injectable drugs into oral formulations. Octreolin is their lead product, but their website indicates they're also working on a drug to treat complications of chronic kidney disease.

It appears Chiasma are conducting clinical trials on the use of octreolin to treat neuroendocrine tumours. In addition to this and acromegaly, octreotide (the injectable somatostatin analogue that octreolin emulates) is used to treat carcinoid syndrome, TSHomas/thyrotropinomas and an extremely rare tumour called a VIPoma. VIP actually stands for vasoactive intestinal peptide, a hormone which the tumour produces in excess, but these tumours are so rare - estimated annual incidence of one per ten million people - that the other meaning of VIP is strangely apposite. A press release from Chiasma also suggested that octreolin was being investigated as a treatment for portal hypertension. So if octreolin is found to be as safe and effective as octreotide, it could benefit people suffering from a whole range of conditions.

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