For the better part of the last year, Flamel
Last week, however, a ray of hope pierced through the otherwise dark cloud that has been hovering over the company. On Friday, Flamel officials released preliminary data from a phase 1/2 trial suggesting IFN-alpha-XL -- its hepatitis C treatment -- may work just as well as existing treatments while having the additional benefit of producing fewer side effects.
This is good news for a couple of reasons. First, IFN-alpha-XL utilizes the company's proprietary Medusa nanoparticle technology, and this positive result suggests the technology provides competitive advantages over existing drugs. The Medusa technology is a nano-encapsulated technology that doesn't require the use of toxic solvents and can release its drugs in a controlled manner over an extended period of time. Such a technology could find a number of profitable applications in the pharmaceutical arena, given the need for improving the delivery of protein drugs.
The second positive outcome is that if the favorable results hold up in subsequent larger trials, IFN-alpha-XL may be able to compete with PEG-Intron -- a hepatitis C drug produced by Schering-Plough
Unfortunately for Flamel investors, like me, this news does not guarantee sunnier days ahead. Until follow-up trial tests confirm Medusa's superiority in the treatment of hepatitis C and until a major deal with a pharmaceutical firm -- like Eli Lilly
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Jack Uldrich has been accused by teachers and friends alike of thinking small since grade school. He is the author of The Next Big Thing is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business. He owns shares of Flamel but none of the other companies mentioned in this article. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.