Enanta Leads the Small Molecule Race to a Billion Dollar Market
Enanta Pharmaceuticals Inc is a research and development-focused biotech company that makes small molecule drugs for viruses and lung infections. The pharma company is important because they just announced on June 14th that their treatment for a respiratory virus reduced virus levels in a mid-stage study. Their therapy, EDP-938, treats Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).
RSV is a highly contagious respiratory infection, and it spreads through coughing and sneezing. Furthermore, people that have RSV can remain contagious for up to four weeks. RSV is typically not a huge deal but can be serious for infants and the elderly. In addition, RSV is the most common cause of bronchitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lungs) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs). As a result, more than 57,000 children younger than five and more than 177,000 adults over 65 are hospitalized every year. The biggest issue is that treatment is currently limited to supportive care, such as oxygen therapy, which is why Enanta’s therapy is so important.
Enanta’s solution, EDP-938, works differently than other drugs that try to prevent RSV. EDP-938 stops the replication of the RSV virus within the infected cell. This is opposed to how other drugs stop the RSV from entering the cell in the first place. The benefit of EDP-938 is that it can work in later stages because the cell can already be infected.
Statistically, EDP-938 achieved highly significant reductions in RSV viruses and replications of these viruses, according the Enanta’s press release. In addition, EDP-938’s clean safety data allows Enanta to test higher doses in the future.
Other pharmaceutical companies such as Johnson and Johnson or Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have abandoned programs to find a treatment for the drug. Hence, Enanta is the only company to have a successful mid-stage study and is well in the lead to find the cure. According to the CEO of Enanta, RSV represents a potential market of hundreds of millions of dollars in the United States and about a billion dollars globally. Putting these facts together means that Enanta could be hitting the jackpot very soon.
Written by William Turchetta, Edited by Matthew Durborow & Alexander Fleiss