Conatus Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a privately-held specialty pharmaceutical company engaged in the development of innovative human therapeutics to treat liver disease. Chronic liver disease affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide and can be caused by many different conditions or “insults” to the liver such as long term infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV), excessive food intake (obesity), chronic alcohol abuse, or autoimmune diseases. Typically, in such diseases, abnormal inflammation is an important, if not the dominant, contributor to disease progression including the generation of fibrotic lesions through the process of fibrogenesis.
Since inception, our primary objectives have been to: 1) define mechanisms with scientific rationale that predict a dampening of abnormal inflammation in the liver; 2) identify preclinical and clinical stage compounds that target these mechanisms; 3) determine whether these compounds have the appropriate properties consistent for use as treatments for liver disease; and 4) actively seek to in-license promising drug candidates that meet our stated objectives.
Our lead drug candidate (CTS-1027) is an oral small molecule that inhibits the activity of key members of a class of proteases, the matrix metalloproteinases or MMPs. In the liver and in other solid organs, MMPs play an important role in regulating inflammation as well as in maintaining the integrity of the extracellular matrix. Excessive MMP activity has been demonstrated to occur in the liver in response to a variety of insults. This results in the loss of scaffolding that maintains the normal architecture of the liver and recruitment and activation of inflammatory cells that perpetuate liver damage and fibrosis.
CTS-1027 was initially attractive due to the degree of preclinical characterization and extensive human safety demonstrated by the licensor. Since acquiring the drug candidate, Conatus has demonstrated that CTS-1027 is active in a variety of preclinical models of liver disease.
CTS-1027 has recently entered a Phase 2 clinical trial as a therapy for liver damage associated with infection by hepatitis C virus. CTS-1027 is designed to address disease in HCV treatment failures (approximately 1 million patients in the US today) with a unique approach that minimizes inflammation, abnormal cell death and fibrogenesis associated with this chronic viral infection. Patients treated with CTS-1027 could theoretically maintain normal liver function indefinitely even in the presence of a persistent viral infection. This drug may also be evaluated for use as adjunct treatment in combination with HCV antiviral therapies. Initial results from the current trial are expected to be available in the second half of 2008.
The Conatus team has a strong track record of success in working with key thought leaders to design and carry out human clinical trials that validate the potential of our drug candidates to treat liver disease, to identify mechanisms for liver disease treatments, and to create successful partnerships with global pharmaceutical companies. Our success in generating value for our investors is exemplified by the sale in 2005 of our last company, Idun Pharmaceuticals, Inc. to Pfizer Inc.