SOURCE: Sapphire Therapeutics

October 26, 2006 07:57 ET

Sapphire Therapeutics, Inc. Licenses Novel Drug to Ono Pharmaceuticals in Japan, Korea and Taiwan for the Treatment of Cancer Anorexia/Cachexia

BRIDGEWATER, NJ -- (MARKET WIRE) -- October 26, 2006 -- Sapphire Therapeutics, Inc., a private biopharmaceutical company that develops compounds acting within the ghrelin pathway for metabolic and oncologic diseases, has licensed to Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (Osaka, Japan), a novel drug candidate for treating cancer anorexia/cachexia.

Ono has obtained exclusive rights to develop and commercialize RC-1291 in Japan, Korea and Taiwan under this agreement. Ono will pay Sapphire upfront and milestone payments as well as royalties on sales of RC-1291. Ono plans to start Phase I trials for RC-1291 in Japan in the second quarter of 2007.

"We identified and licensed Sapphire's RC-1291 which is expected to become a first drug for cancer anorexia/cachexia," said Shozo Matsuoka, PhD, executive director, development headquarters and member of the board at Ono. "RC-1291, acting directly on the appetite and anabolic pathways, could bring cancer anorexia/cachexia patients the benefits of appetite stimulation and lean muscle-building activity to improve their independence and quality of life."

Sapphire is developing RC-1291, a synthetic, small-molecule ghrelin mimetic that can orally be administered to patients with cancer anorexia/cachexia. RC-1291 received FDA fast-track designation in January 2005, and is currently undergoing Phase II trials in cancer patients with anorexia/cachexia.

"We are delighted to be partnering with Ono, which has an exceptional record for discovering and developing innovative medicines to fight human disease and pain," said William Polvino, MD, executive vice president at Sapphire. "Sapphire looks forward to working with Ono to bring the benefits of RC-1291 to patients with cancer anorexia/cachexia."

About Ghrelin and RC-1291

Ghrelin is a circulating peptide hormone principally produced in stomach cells that has various physiological actions, including appetite stimulation and muscle-building (anabolic) effects. RC-1291 has similar physiological actions to those of ghrelin, and, unlike ghrelin itself, is orally active, and therefore could be an innovative treatment to improve impaired quality of life in cancer anorexia/cachexia patients.

About Cancer Anorexia/Cachexia

Cachexia affects many patients with chronic diseases, including AIDS, cancer, organ failure, and rheumatoid arthritis. Sometimes called "wasting," symptoms include loss of appetite (anorexia) and lean body mass. Cachexia frequently accompanies malignant cancers and is an independent risk factor for poor survival. To date, there are no approved treatments by ghrelin or its mimetics in the United States, Japan, Korea or Taiwan for cancer anorexia/cachexia.

About Ono Pharmaceutical

Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. is an R&D-oriented pharmaceutical company specialized in creating innovative medicines in specific areas and is headquartered in Osaka, Japan. RC-1291 will expand Ono's pipeline in cancer and supportive care medicines.

For more information, visit the company web site at

About Sapphire Therapeutics

Sapphire is a private biopharmaceutical company that develops promising small-molecule ghrelin mimetics to treat metabolic and oncologic diseases for which existing therapies are limited or marginally effective. Sapphire's pipeline consists of first-in-class, composition-of-matter protected compounds acting within the ghrelin pathway. The furthest advanced program is RC-1291.

For more information, please visit Sapphire's web site at

Contact Information

  • Contacts:
    William Polvino, MD
    Sapphire Therapeutics, Inc.
    (908) 203-6548
    Email Contact

    For Media:
    Ellen M Martin
    Kureczka/Martin Associates
    (510) 832-2044
    Email Contact