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Ionis’s Metabolic Segment: Phase I and Phase II Studies

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May. 4 2016, Updated 6:04 p.m. ET

Metabolic segment

Ionis Pharmaceuticals (IONS) is developing drugs for the treatment of various types of metabolic disorders, including diabetes, obesity, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. The company is developing these drugs independently.

There are five drugs in this metabolic segment. Four are in Phase II clinical studies, and one is in a Phase I clinical study.

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Drugs in Phase II studies

Ionis has four drugs in Phase II clinical studies:

  • IONIS-GCGR reduces the production of glucagon receptors in patients with Type 2 diabetes. The company has completed one Phase II clinical study of this drug and has initiated another Phase II study for identification of optimal dose and schedule to achieve glucose control.
  • IONIS-GCCR reduces the production of the glucocorticoid receptor in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Glucocorticoid hormones affect the production of liver glucose and fat storage. Excessive glucocorticoid receptor activity is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and glucose intolerance. The company has completed a Phase II study of this drug.
  • IONIS-PTP1B reduces protein tyrosine phosphatase-1B for patients with Type 2 diabetes. This phosphatase negatively regulates insulin receptors. This drug is designed to treat patients with Type 2 diabetes without causing weight gain or lowering blood sugar. The company has completed a Phase II study of this drug.
  • IONIS-FGFR4 reduces the production of fibroblast growth factor receptor-4 to treat obesity. The fibroblast growth factor receptor-4 regulates fat burning and body weight and increases fat burning. The technology utilized in developing this drug is licensed from Verva Pharmaceuticals. Ionis has initiated a Phase II study of this drug.

Drug in Phase I study

IONIS-DGAT2 is Ionis’s only drug from its metabolics segment in Phase I clinical studies. It was developed to treat patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a liver disease due to the presence of excessive liver fat. The Phase I study was initiated in September 2015.

You can consider investing in ETFs such as the iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM), which holds ~0.5% of its total assets in Ionis. You can also consider the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI), which holds ~1.2% of its total assets in Ionis. XBI also holds 2.1% of its total assets in Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT), 2.0% in Seattle Genetics (SGEN), 2.0% in Amgen (AMGN), and 2.3% in Medivation (MDVN).

In the final part of our series, we’ll look at other drugs under development at Ionis Pharmaceuticals.

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