Obviously there is a lot of attention being paid within the pharma and biotech industries about the potential for re-analysis and re-purposing of pre-existing compounds. I wonder, what is really involved in that re-investigation and re-analysis looking for new efficacy in different indications?
Dr. Klassen: I think, at least in the case of Orexigen, really was not a search for an appropriate compound. It did not start with “Which compounds can we repurpose?” It really started from the novel discovery of an inhibitory loop in a central nervous system pathway that it blocked and could potentiate a reduction in appetite and an increase in energy expenditure and, therefore, an improvement in clinical weight loss. So, I’m not sure I know exactly how to answer that in our specific case because it definitely was not a case of specifically trying to re-purpose compounds for different use. We made a novel discovery about a potential nervous system mechanism and recognized that we could interdict on that pathway using two simultaneous approaches and we could have developed new chemical entities (NCEs) to do each one of those things. But, as it turned out, it was already known that there were already compounds, i.e. bupropion and naltrexone that could do that.
The thinking was at the time that particularly in the obesity field while you could get new agents to interdict on those pathways, using older agents that were well-known and well characterized, albeit in a different therapeutic areas, would be a greater level of comfort because we already know these agents. For mood disorders and smoking cessation, it’s bupropion and in the case of addiction disorders it’s naltrexone. So, that was really the essence of why the founders of the company elected to go with agents that were already used in the marketplace because there was enough patent protection around the novel finding of this pathway that it made sense to try that.
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