Last week, Nastech Pharmaceutical
Carbetocin is a long-acting, nasal spray analog of the naturally occurring hormone oxytocin, which may offer hope in alleviating the urgent, unmet medical need for an effective treatment of autism symptoms. The company has licensed the intellectual property rights from Dr. Eric Hollander, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai's School of Medicine's Seaver and New York Autism Center of Excellence, who has reported that oxytocin may be useful in the treatment of autism. The drug candidate is currently unlicensed, and successful early stage dosing trials have recently been completed.
The company is also developing a nasal spray formulation of parathyroid hormone (PTH) to treat osteoporosis in conjunction with Procter & Gamble
The company also has a pending Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for its calcitonin-salmon nasal spray for osteoporosis, which is licensed to Par Pharmaceutical
In the treatment of diabetes, Nastech has conducted phase 1 studies for its unlicensed inhaled insulin drug candidate, with future studies aimed at increasing both the duration of effect and the amount of insulin that is absorbed. The company is also in early development stages with Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN) to develop a nasal spray formulation of the diabetes drug Byetta, which cannot be given by mouth and requires multiple daily injections.
Finally, the company has an experimental nasal spray for the treatment of obesity called Peptide YY (PYY) that is currently unlicensed. PYY has completed three phase 1 studies, demonstrating that the compound is safe, well-tolerated, and has the potential to reduce caloric intake, moderate appetite, and cause weight loss in human subjects. In March 2006, Merck
Despite some setbacks, Nastech has a deep enough pipeline of promising drug candidates delivered by the company's proprietary nasal spray delivery system to make it a good investment for patient biotech investors who are willing to stay with the company as it transitions into phase 2 development for its extensive pipeline. I expect the company to add and expand upon its existing collaborations, and continue to report positive results in future clinical trials with the advantage of a diverse range of compounds in its pipeline to mitigate risk. Also, investors should watch out for future developments in the company's RNA interference research initiatives.
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Fool contributor Mike Havrilla, R.Ph., B.S., Pharm.D., is a Rite Aid pharmacist who lives, writes, works, and enjoys running on the streets and trails in the small Pennsylvania town of Portage. He invites your comments and feedback. Mike does not have a position in any company mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.