Metacrine Inc. (NASDAQ: MTCR) has announced that it is on track to commence a second phase clinical study in ulcerative colitis. In addition, the FDA has given Metacrine permission to move forward with its Phase II trial of MET642 in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which it plans to start in the first half of 2022.
Metacrine reorganizing to support MET642 clinical research
In order to support the current clinical research of MET642 in IBD, Metacrine is pursuing a reorganization plan to decrease operating expenses and save capital drastically. The restructuring will result in a 50 percent reduction in workers, especially in the research unit. As a consequence, Metacrine’s hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD) project has been halted in preclinical development. At the end of December 31, 2021, the company had cash and equivalents and short-term holdings of $76.4 million. Metacrine reckons it has enough cash on hand to carry out its present business plan until 2023.
Metacrine CEO Preston Klassen said, “We are now focusing all of our development effort on bringing expanded therapeutic options to people living with IBD. We have generated preclinical data that supports moving our MET642 program into clinical testing in IBD during the next few months. The rationale for FXR-based therapies in IBD is anchored on the potential to address multiple aspects of IBD pathogenesis without the immunosuppression inherent to other advanced-line therapies.”
FXR-based therapies can address elements of IBD etiology
FXR-based therapeutics in IBD are justified by their ability to address several elements of IBD etiology without the immunosuppression associated with advanced-line medications. FXR is abundantly released by intestinal epithelial cells and is involved in preserving the epithelial barrier, decreasing bacterial movement into the intestinal wall, and modulating the adaptive immune system, all of which contribute to optimal intestinal function. Patients could benefit from FXR therapy, which is an oral, well-tolerated, once-daily, and non-immunosuppressive drug.
Klassen added, “We’re also taking restructuring steps to manage our resources and significantly extend our cash runway as we evaluate a range of ways to generate value from our discovery programs, product candidates and financial assets.”