Bone drug still viable: DeLuca
By Jeff Richgels
Despite the ending of its partnership with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Madison-based Deltanoid Pharmaceuticals remains confident about prospects for its lead drug.
"It's a very safe compound and it looks like it might work," said UW-Madison Professor Hector DeLuca, who led the team that developed 2MD, a potentially revolutionary osteoporosis drug that is the first to show the ability to stimulate new bone formation, rather than just prevent bone loss.
Osteoporosis is a disease involving the loss of normal bone that results in a susceptibility to fractures. The disease affects some 25 million people in the U.S. and is most frequently seen in postmenopausal women, elderly people and those taking corticosteroids.
Deltanoid is preparing to initiate the second of three phases of clinical trials for 2MD.
Pfizer, which signed a deal with Deltanoid in January 2003, had been conducting its own Phase II trials of 2MD but quit after six months, ending the relationship with Deltanoid last December, DeLuca said.
"It was their design and we did not have any controlling vote in the design of the trial," DeLuca said. "They started out and used very low doses, much lower than we would use. We worked extensively with animals and knew what (dosage) they would tolerate."
"The reasons they didn't go further are not entirely known to us," DeLuca added.
One possibility, he said, is business because Pfizer has several drugs in development "and our's may not have reached their highest priority."
Another is that Pfizer said it did not see any bone density increases in the six months, but DeLuca said that was not enough time.