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Gut-Brain Meds Developer Going Public in Merger

Milk splashing

(Myriams-Fotos, Pixabay.

31 Oct. 2022. A developer of synthetic biology treatments for inflammatory and neurological disorders linked to the gut is becoming a public company through a special acquisition merger. Intrinsic Medicine Inc. in Seattle is joining with Phoenix Biotech Acquisition Corp. in Oakland, California, a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC, in a deal expected to bring Intrinsic as much as $179 million.

Intrinsic Medicine is a four year-old biotechnology company creating therapies with synthetic biology for diseases resulting from disruptions in the gut microbiome, communities of bacteria and other microbes, gaining more attention from researchers and entrepreneurs. Recent discoveries reveal links between the gut microbe health and diseases occurring elsewhere in the body, including those affecting the immune and central nervous systems. In Sept. 2022, for example, Science & Enterprise reported on a clinical trial underway collecting stool and blood samples to find connections between microbial communities in the gut and four types of solid tumor cancer.

The Intrinsic technology is based on human milk oligosaccharides, abundant natural sugars in milk that are minimally digested in the stomach and small intestine, and thus reach the colon largely intact. In the gut, human milk oligosaccharides promote healthy microbe development and reduce disease-causing microbes, while helping to produce metabolites with therapeutic effects. From the gut, these sugars circulate throughout the body and bind with other cells including immune system cells and neurons.

Treatments for gut-brain axis conditions

The company says it develops therapies from synthetic versions of human milk oligosaccharides or HMOs, with treatments in development for inflammatory disorders in the gut, inflammation from autoimmune diseases, and neurological conditions. Intrinsic’s lead product, code-named, OM002, is a synthetic form of the HMO 2’-fucosyllactose, which the company says makes up 30 percent of HMOs in milk. Intrinsic says 2’-fucosyllactose reduces inflammation directly, supports the integrity of the colon lining, and promotes generation of short-chain fatty acids that also benefit the colon lining.

OM002, says the company, is soon to begin a mid-stage or phase 2 clinical trial as a treatment for gut-brain axis or GBA conditions including constipation from irritable bowel syndrome or IBS-C. OM002 is also in preclinical development for IBS-related diarrhea and IBS occurring after surgery, as well as autism spectrum disorder. Intrinsic has two other synthetic biology products based on different HMO sugars in varying preclinical stages for rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, atopic dermatitis, autism spectrum disorder, and pain.

“Our planned placebo-controlled Phase 2b clinical study of OM002 in IBS-C,” says Intrinsic Medicine president Jason Ferrone in a company statement, “IBS-C will be the first of its kind to evaluate the safety and efficacy of an HMO-based medicine in patients living with a GBA disorder. Ferrone adds he expects initial data from the trial will be available in the first half of 2024.

The merger with Phoenix Biotech Acquisition Corp., traded on the Nasdaq as PBAX, is expected to bring Intrinsic Medicine as much as $178.8 million, assuming no redemptions from current PBAX shareholders and no other capital raised. Intrinsic will trade on the Nasdaq as INRX after the transaction closes, expected in the first half of 2023. The company plans to use the proceeds for the upcoming clinical trial of OM002, and advance other OM002 applications and products through their preclinical stages.

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