Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG
Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG is a privately held drug discovery company based in the Biotech Cluster Rhine-Neckar located in the southwest of Germany with laboratories & offices in Ludwigshafen & Heidelberg. The company focuses on the discovery of small molecule therapeutics that modulate nuclear receptors.
We aim to utilize our special nuclear receptor know how & technology platform to develop novel innovative therapies for diseases with a high unmet medical need and a significant market potential. Our business goal is to partner these programs for further clinical development after preclinical or clinical proof-of-concept studies.
Phenex currently pursues two proprietary R&D programs that target the nuclear receptors FXR and RORγt for the treatment of liver and autoimmune diseases. Both programs are already partnered with market-leaders in these disease indications. In addition the company has further, undisclosed discovery programs in the field of liver and gastrointestinal diseases.
Phenex was founded in 2002 in Heidelberg, Germany, by a group of seven scientists around Dr. Claus Kremoser (CEO) and Thomas Hoffmann (CFO). The company raised about 30 Mio. USD Venture Capital and generated approx. the same amount in revenues through R&D collaborations and service projects with several pharmaceutical companies since the company`s inception.
Autoimmune Diseases – RORγ program
The Retinoic acid-related orphan receptor γt (RORγt) is a highly attractive target for the treatment of autoimmune diseases like Psoriasis or Rheumatoid Arthritis – diseases for which no curative or at least satisfying treatment is available. As of 2013, the RORγt program is partnered with Janssen Biotech Inc. to jointly explore different chemical series of RORγt inhibitors. The collaboration combines Phenex’s nuclear receptor know how and the immunology expertise of Janssen Biotech to discover new RORγt based treatments for autoimmune diseases.
Liver Diseases – FXR program
Targeting the farnesoid X Receptor (FXR) is a very promising strategy for the treatment of liver diseases, i.e. for the indications Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH).
Originating in the fast growing number of people with Metabolic Syndrome (a combined state of obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension and insulin resistance) incidences for NAFLD and NASH are dramatically rising worldwide. The combination of an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle and overnutrition leads to fat accumulation in the liver (“steatosis”). Hepatic steatosis – if untreated – can progress to a more severe form of NAFLD, which is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
Steatohepatitis embraces steatosis, signs of inflammation and hepatocyte injury with or without fibrosis. The prevalence of NASH is estimated to approach 5% of the total population in industrialized countries. NASH markedly increases the risk to develop cirrhosis, liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma. Currently, there is no approved therapy for NAFLD or NASH available. A new hope comes now from the discovery of fully synthetic FXR agonists. Pharmacological activation of FXR attacks the underlying causes of NAFLD and NASH.
As of 2015, the FXR program is partnered with Gilead Sciences, Inc., a market leader in the field of liver diseases. The collaboration combines Phenex`s target-related know-know and it´s drug candidates on FXR with Gilead´s preclinical and clinical development strengths.