Ferring Pharmaceuticals and the Instituto de Ciências Farmacêuticas (Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, or ICF) in Brazil said today they will partner to develop a mucoadhesive rectal delivery system to treat anal fissures in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The value of the partners’ research collaboration was not disclosed.

“We want to develop a ready-to-use and patient-compliant delivery system with mucoadhesive properties, to provide doctors with an alternative to current topical treatments and surgical options,” ICF CEO Leonardo Teixeira, Ph.D., said in a statement.

Added Alan Harris, Ph.D., Ferring svp, R&D executive office: “This collaboration is focused on meeting a number of unmet needs—from alleviating the pain of anal fissures to promoting faster healing, increasing patient adherence, and developing more convenient dosing.”

The collaboration hopes to add to Ferring’s offerings in IBD, a specialty of its gastroenterology pipeline. The company’s key product Pentasa® (mesalazine) is indicated for IBD, including Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Ferring continues to develop various dosage forms for Pentasa, including tablets, sachets, and suppositories, according to the company’s website.

Also in IBD, last year Ferring launched a multiyear collaboration with Switzerland’s North Zealand University Hospital (Nordsjællands Hospital) that combines research into the role of microbiota in IBD patients’ responses to different treatments with development of an eHealth-based program designed to increase patients’ adherence to treatment and reduce their time-to-remission through self-treating and self-monitoring.

Earlier in 2016, Ferring gained worldwide rights, excluding China, from Targeted Immuno Therapies (TLA) to a TLA-discovered novel IBD treatment, through a strategic collaboration agreement of undisclosed value. The treatment is designed to re-establish a positive balance of the patient’s immune system by removing harmful cells from the patient’s blood through a modified version of leukapheresis in which patients’ own blood is pumped through a column containing a proprietary peptide chemokine.

In another collaboration, Ferring and Intralytix agreed to develop a bacteriophage-based IBD therapy. The partnership was broadened in January to include joint research into bacteriophage-based drugs to regulate the microbiome of the female reproductive tract, oral cavity, and skin, in addition to the gut.

Since 2008, Ferring has also partnered with Conaris Research Institute, a spin-off of Germany’s Kiel University, to develop FE301, a recombinant protein inhibitor of the interleukin-6 (IL-6) pathway, for IBD and other inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis.

Gastroenterology is one of the company’s five areas of therapeutic interest. The other four are endocrinology, orthopedics, reproductive health, and urology.

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