NeRRe Raises £20M to Develop Orvepitant for IPF Chronic Cough

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by Forest Ray PhD |

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NeRRe Therapeutics has raised £20 million (nearly $28 million) to develop orvepitant as a treatment for the chronic cough that can impact quality of life for people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Orvepitant’s efficacy has been demonstrated in patients with refractory or unexplained chronic cough associated with reflex hypersensitivity disorders.

Now, the company plans to evaluate its potential in treating chronic cough caused by IPF — for which there are no approved medications.

“After demonstrating that orvepitant reduces the burden of chronic cough in one population, we are delighted to have received the financial support to further advance this promising asset for patients suffering from chronic cough associated with IPF,” Mary Kerr, PhD, NeRRe’s CEO, said in a press release.

People with IPF frequently experience a persistent, uncontrolled, and hard-to-treat cough that impacts both overall health and quality of life. No therapy has yet been approved to treat it and off-label medications typically do not provide the desired relief.

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Although the underlying cause of IPF remains unknown, evidence suggests that the pathway controlling the cough reflex becomes hypersensitive over the course of the illness, according to NeRRe.

For patients with IPF, a rare and progressive form of interstitial lung disease, coughing can be a “dominant and distressing” symptom, said Toby Maher, PhD, of the Keck School of Medicine, in Los Angeles.

“A treatment that improves this chronic cough would substantially improve the quality of life of many IPF patients,” said Maher, the director of the interstitial lung disease program at Keck.

Orvepitant is designed to help control coughing by preventing the neurokinin-1 (NK-1) receptor from interacting with a peptide called substance P and triggering the activation of the cough reflex pathway.

An exploratory, open-label study in the U.K. found that treatment with orvepitant led to significant reductions in daytime cough frequency and severity, as well as improvements in the participants’ quality of life.

Moreover, the therapy, given at a dose of 30 mg once daily for four weeks (about one month), was shown to be safe and well-tolerated.

A Phase 2 dose-ranging study (NCT02993822) also demonstrated that orvepitant led to statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in patient-reported outcomes related to chronic cough. That study, involving 315 participants, took place both in the U.K. and the U.S.

To develop Orvepitant for IPF, NeRRe now has raised £20 million in a Series B2 financing round. Existing backers Advent Life Sciences, Fountain Healthcare Partners, Forbion Capital Partners, OrbiMed, and the U.K. Government’s Future Fund were joined by new investor Columbus Venture Partners.

This financing round will primarily fund orvepitant’s Phase 2 clinical development for chronic cough associated with IPF, with preparations for a Phase 2 trial currently underway.

“We have been impressed by NeRRe’s clear strategy and focus on chronic cough associated with IPF, a condition of high unmet medical need,” said Javier Garcia, general partner and founder of Columbus Venture Partners.

“We look forward to supporting the company as it fully uncovers the multiple benefits that orvepitant can provide to these patients,” Garcia said.

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