Ulcerative colitis (UC) is one of the two most frequent inflammatory bowel diseases. The onset age of UC peaks between 15 and 30 years and between 50 and 70 years. The condition is chronic and dominated by episodes of bloody diarrhea and intermittent periods of remission with quiescent disease. In the industrialized world, the prevalence of UC is approximately 250 per 100.000 persons. The incidence of UC is increasing in newly industrialized countries that adopt a western lifestyle. On a global scale, approximately 2.5 million people suffer from UC. In addition, UC is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Severe acute flare-ups of UC are life threatening and are treated surgically by complete removal of the large intestine. Nevertheless, although curative, the surgical option is usually the last choice and obviously not a desirable solution. Less severe cases are treated medically using small molecule-based drugs with anti-inflammatory properties. Anti-inflammatory biological therapy is also used for a fraction of patients.
EnteroTarget is a spinout company from the University of Copenhagen established in 2018 after the discovery of a novel mechanism involved in the regeneration of the colonic epithelial lining. It is the goal to partner up with potential investors to bring this therapy to the market with ulcerative colitis as the primary medical indication and Crohn’s disease as a potential additional indication. EnteroTarget holds an exclusive worldwide license to the invention.
Despite the availability of several anti-inflammatory drugs, a significant fraction of patients are refractory to treatment and maintains high disease activity. These patients are at increased risk of undergoing colectomy or other intestinal resections. The limitations of existing therapies, thus, necessitate other alternatives, mainly with regard to the epithelium. Reinforcing the mucosal barrier by targeting epithelial lining could potentially exclude many of the detrimental events caused by the accumulation of epithelial damage that leads to pathogenic invasions and mucosal ulcerations.
Our mission is to address this unmet medical need and develop a novel therapeutic strategy to treat inflammatory conditions of the intestinal tract, mainly the large intestine.
Although mucosal healing is the desired long-term outcome of IBD therapy, the majority of available treatment options controls disease symptoms by targeting the immune system rather than the epithelium. Yet, this strategy is still to be exploited in the clinic due to the lack of drugs that specifically target the intestinal epithelial wall without potentially initiating/promoting cancer. Our findings in vivo identify the intestinal epithelial insulin receptor as such a novel targeting candidate.
EnteroTarget’s technology relies on the administration of insulin to the lumen of the colon by either rectal administration or by oral administration in a delayed release form.
The main unique advantage is that rectal insulin therapy achieves an anti-inflammatory effect by targeting the epithelial cells rather than the immune cells and can thus synergize with existing IBD therapies. Another advantage is that topical insulin administration acts locally at the site of disease, and thus reduces the risk of any undesired systemic side effects. Moreover, the pharmacological properties of human insulin are already well-known and insulin can be self-administered which is more convenient for the patients, thus reducing costs related to hospitalization and improving quality of life and flexibility for the patients.
The co-founders of EnteroTarget ApS
Professor of Gross Anatomy (UCPH), MD DMSc
Prof. Olsen is the co-inventor of the technology and the former director of the School of Medical Sciences and the medical study (UCPH). He studies the intestinal morphogenesis and differentiation. Since the millennium he has focused on genome wide gene expression studies and on metabonomics studies using colonic tissue from patients with IBD.
Member of the Board
Medical Advisor, MSc PhD
Dr. Yassin is the co-inventor of the technology and has experience in translational research and in vivo disease models. He is an expert in murine studies on intestinal inflammation and colitis-associated cancer. Since 2018, Dr. Yassin has been working in the pharmaceutical industry within medical affairs focusing on the development of pipeline molecules and medical brand strategies.
Chairman of the Board
Professor of Medical Biology (RUC), PhD DMSc
Prof. Troelsen is a world-leading expert in the regulation of gene expression in the intestine and have since 1989 studied the biology of intestinal epithelial cells. Prof. Troelsen has discovered and characterized several genes and proteins involved in normal intestinal homeostasis, intestinal inflammation and colon cancer development.
European patent on "Rectal Insulin" (patent no. 3538132) has now been validated in fifteen European countries.
Communication under Rule 71(3) EPC
(The European Patent Office communicates their decision to Grant the Patent for Rectal Insulin for Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
Patent application: PCT/EP2017/078900 (Title: RECTAL INSULIN FOR TREATMENT OF INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASES) has been filed to regional and national patent offices.
EnteroTarget received InnoBooster Grant from Innovation Fund Denmark for "Insulin, Novel IBD Therapy" (DKK 484.400)
Our research mentioned in the media: