GroPep looks to sell off neuropathy research

By Tanya Hollis
Thursday, 28 March, 2002

GroPep is hoping to license out its research into a topical treatment for diabetic neuropathy after product development studies failed to come up with a suitable transdermal formulation.

The South Australian company, which specialises in growth factors, also said today it would consider selling the intellectual property.

Managing director Dr John Ballard said the company would not be averse to selling the patents on PV705, in the same way it had recently divested itself of some assets acquired through the Biotech Australia purchase.

"In this case, though, because we have patents and manufacturing capabilities in this area, it may be more sensible to license it," Ballard said.

He said the company was currently considering businesses in Australia and overseas that would have the technological platforms to carry the research forward.

In September last year, GroPep announced "positive trends" in a Phase II trial of PV705 in diabetic patients at Melbourne's International Diabetes Institute.

But in its latest announcement, the company said development studies conducted in collaboration with contract researcher CMAX and the Royal Adelaide Hospital's Department of Nuclear Medicine and Bone Densitometry had not yielded a formulation that could promote a significant uptake of the growth factor.

Ballard said studies had shown PV705 could generate nerve regrowth in animals, but the difficulty was in the topical delivery of the drug.

"We always knew that PV705 was a high risk project because it required a protein growth factor to be transferred across the skin," he said.

"Nevertheless, the very modest development cost, including only $0.1 million for the formulation study, coupled with the potential billion dollar market made the opportunity well worth pursuing".

He said another of the company's drug development projects, PV801 for tendon repair, used the same growth factor as tested for PV705, meaning the value of the manufacturing and quality control put into the potential diabetic neuropathy treatment was retained by GroPep.

Ballard said diabetic neuropathy affected many thousands of patients in Australia alone, with treatment limited to physiotherapy and limb amputation.

The disease is a nerve condition the affects the arms, legs, hands and feet of diabetes sufferers.

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