The GI Company: Specialists in GI Medicine




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Video title: The GI Company: Specialists in GI Medicine
Released on: May 01, 2008. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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  • Summary
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In this exclusive interview, Fintan Walton talks to Nicholas Barker, President and CEO of The GI Company. The interview commences with Nicholas discussing the academic origins of The GI Company, its technologies and its financial sources. Nicholas talks about the company’s lead programme, known as Intestinal Trefoil Factor (ITF) and explains how ITF promotes mucosal repair, thus giving the drug scope to treat several conditions. Nicholas mentions the benefits of applying a virtual company structure to The GI Company, and also covers the key attributes of a company wishing to partner the ITF programme. The interview is concluded with the prospects for ITF and its development for treating a range of indications.
The GI Company: origins , technologies and financial sources.
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaVentures business review here in Madrid. On this show I've got Nicholas Barker, who is President and CEO of The GI Company. Welcome to the show.
Nicholas Barker:
Thank you Fintan Walton, delighted to be here.
Fintan Walton:
Nicholas Barker, The GI Company is a company obviously very specialized in the GI Area, your were originally founded in 2000 and you're a private based, privately based company, tell us about why GI was the area of focus, and how the company was set up?
Nicholas Barker:
We set up two scientific co-founders as a company, Professor Dan Podolsky, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Professor Chung Owyang in the University of Michigan and they are well renown Gastroenterologists and so it's logical to that be the emphasis of the company.
Fintan Walton:
And when the company was founded there was already products or technology that was available?
Nicholas Barker:
Yes. The company simultaneously licensed technology from Massachusetts General Hospital and also from the University of Michigan, which formed the core product technology basis.
Fintan Walton:
It's obviously a privately owned company, where is the source of funds for The GI Company?
Nicholas Barker:
Well, we raised private equity financing out of Asia primarily a consult team investors in Hong Kong and this is fairly unusual for a US based company to do.
Lead programme,(ITF)Intestinal Trefoil Factor : The drug scope.
Fintan Walton:
Now the products that you've got currently in development, you've got a couple of areas, you've got some basic research in the Orphanin's area and you've also got in addition to that you've got ITF, may be you could tell us about ITF?
Nicholas Barker:
Yeah, ITF is of course is our lead program and the bulk of the resources of the company have gone into the development of ITF. And ITF has been progressed through 11 clinical trials in a variety of indications.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. And it's what is its particular function? tell us more about ITF itself?
Nicholas Barker:
ITF actually promotes mucosal repairs is such an interesting drug with a wide variety of therapeutic indications and such as things like Colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, chemotherapy-induced mucositis and even ophthalmic disease, respiratory disease any indication where mucosal repair is indicated.
Fintan Walton:
So it's a protein?
Nicholas Barker:
13,000 molecular weight protein.
Fintan Walton:
And how does that get delivered then, how do you actually deliver a protein for that particular, for those particular indications?
Nicholas Barker:
Well interestingly ITF functions topically, so actually locally by local delivery, so for example in our chemotherapy-induced mucositis program we have a proprietory buccal spray where the drug is delivered directly to the all cavity.
Benefits of applying a virtual company structure to The GI Company.
Fintan Walton:
Right. Now the other thing about The GI Company now clearly you are focused on the gastrointestinal area, but you were largely operate as I understand as a virtual company and why, why do you do that?
Nicholas Barker:
That's really, really very true, our virtual model is being designed and really set up to capitalize on keeping infrastructure to the absolute minimum, keeping overhead to the absolute minimum, so that resources can be channeled into projects and development focus.
Strategy on clinical trials and publication of data.
Fintan Walton:
So going back to ITF, ITF as you said has got a broad range of indications. It's passed some of the safety aspects obviously gone through Phase I clinical trials, your current strategy on clinical trials is to what specific indication?
Nicholas Barker:
Our lead indication is chemotherapy-induced mucositis. So we've done a Phase II prophylaxis study to prevent chemotherapy-induced mucositis, and these data will be publically released shortly.
Fintan Walton:
And when you say shortly it's going to be released where and when?
Nicholas Barker:
We actually will publish at ASCO and a verbal presentation would be given by myself at that meeting and abstract detailing the information about the clinical trial will be actually publically posted by ASCO on their website on May 15, so the overall presentation will be on June 2 and the abstract release on May 15.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
Nicholas Barker:
So this is very exciting milestone for The GI Company to receive a peer review from probably the most important oncology related meeting at the road.
Fintan Walton:
Now we wish you success with that.
Nicholas Barker:
Thank you.
ITF: Development on treating a range of indications.
Fintan Walton:
And clearly, because it's got multiple indications the potential use of ITF is for multiple indications and if for some reason you were unsuccessful, I am not even indicating it's going to be unsuccessful is there still an option to take ITF to another indication if that was the case?
Nicholas Barker:
Yes indeed, so we've done a Phase I program in both Colitis and also NSAID-induced gastropathy, and I think particularly NSAID-induced gastropathy is quite an interesting one if you recall the COX-2 analogs somehow the big selling point was reduction of GI toxicology issues with there recent demise the market has gone back to the end side with gastro intestinal problems, so a drug that could modulate that could be a very interesting commercial opportunity and clinic -- clinically beneficial to patients.
Partnership strategies for ITF program.
Fintan Walton:
The other thing about your clinical program you are going to be looking at you are looking at your strategic options to take that forward, and that's obviously would include some other major pharmaceutical company or mid sized specialist company taking ITF forward. What sort of company do you think would want to get access to ITF?
Nicholas Barker:
It's a very good question. A company I think with initially an oncology interest, oncology supportive care interest in the oncology field in general, but one who is able to capitalize on the broader opportunity that ITF offers is a franchise drug. The GI Company in fact has retained Burrill & Company as merchant bankers with the lead individuals Randy Guggenheimer in New York and Anton Gueth who is in San Francisco offices and they're helping us define appropriate strategic partners and strategic relationships.
ITF program: The key value driver.
Fintan Walton:
Okay. And for the future for The GI Company what do you, are you continuing to look forward to taking these other products that you've got or some of the research programs in the Orphanin-Analog?
Nicholas Barker:
Yes the Orphanin in field is very much secondary [ph] and at the moment in research our primary emphasis is really the ITF program and the broader opportunities that it brings. We've actually done four clinical trials in the ophthalmic field, we had some encouraging trends in the data, but at this moment in time nothing really concrete and statistically positive, but that certainly give us further work in that field.
Fintan Walton:
So there is an opportunity for further research there?
Nicholas Barker:
I think further clinical trials further focus to clinical development.
Fintan Walton:
Clearly the key value driver at the moment for The GI Company is the ITF program?
Nicholas Barker:
Yes the ITF program and particularly this chemotherapy-induced mucositis prophylaxis that we've done, and prophylaxis there really is no standard in this new care for mucositis prophylaxis, so this a great step forward for the cancer patient and also commercial opportunity.
Fintan Walton:
Thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Nicholas Barker:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
For us to learn more about The GI Company. Thank you.
Nicholas Barker:
Thank you very much indeed Fintan Walton, I've enjoyed the discussion.
Nicholas Barker
President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr Nicholas Barker, President and CEO of The GI Company, is a licensed UK pharmacist and holds a PhD in drug targeting and delivery. He has over 20 years of pharmaceutical product development experience, and has held senior executive roles in international business and management at a number of large pharmaceutical and smaller biotechnology companies. Dr Nicholas Barker has significant experience in preclinical and clinical drug development, manufacture and industrialization, as well as product registration and launch. During his industry career he has contributed to a number of successful product introductions including Nasacort Aq, Synercid, Taxotere, Plenaxis ,Menorest and Dilacor XR.
The GI Company
The GI Company is a privately held, specialty biopharmaceutical company established to meet the clinical needs and commercial opportunities available in the field of gastrointestinal medicine. The GI Company strategy for success is to discover and develop products in key gastrointestinal indications with high medical need, identify and exploit 'development-ready' technologies for the near-term to reduce risks for shareholders and build a novel pipeline of products based on cutting-edge science in the gastrointestinal field, through leveraging resources from academic institutions and corporate partners.