The past two weeks have been good to development-stage pharmas working on treatments for schizophrenia and its related disorders. Two weeks ago, the big winner in this field was Acadia Pharmaceuticals. And last Monday, shares of Alexza Pharmaceuticals
The trial results that Alexza announced last week were from two phase 2 studies testing its vaporization technology in two drug candidates. The whole idea behind this technology, which Alexza has dubbed the "Staccato System," is that it can heat up drugs to turn them into a gaseous state that can then be inhaled. This provides another treatment option to deliver these compounds to patients.
The benefits to patients of an aerosolized version of a drug versus having a compound injected via a needle into the body are obvious. But orally administered drugs can also benefit from the technology, since it may improve the bioavailability of these compounds.
Alexza is also clinically testing its platform vaporization technology in two other drugs. The company's stated goal is to bring one or two more new compounds into clinical testing each year out of the possible hundreds of drugs that this technology can be used with.
The holy grail of investing in development-stage pharmaceutical stocks is to find drugmakers with platform technologies that can be applied across a broad spectrum of drugs to improve their efficacy or make their administration easier. Companies that use already approved drugs that are on the market and simply change the way that the compounds are dosed or their pharmacokinetic properties can become huge winners if there is a market for their product. Investors should keep a close watch on Alexza.
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