Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, or EPI, is a problem in a person’s digestive system. Simply put, EPI is when the pancreas cannot produce enough of the enzymes that the body requires to break down and absorb nutrients. Unfortunately, this means that the body is unable to absorb the right fats and nutrients, often leading to weight loss.
There are a number of causes for EPI, such as inflammation of the pancreas; effects from surgery on the pancreas, intestines, or stomach; or even an inherited disease such as cystic fibrosis, Shwachman-Diamond syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, diabetes, or celiac disease. Symptoms do vary, but normally the patient will feel a pain or tenderness in the abdomen, problems with bowel movements, flatulence, and a feeling of being full.
Today, there has been a rise in the number of people with EPI, and this has been largely attributed to an increase in the number of patients diagnosed with diabetes and cystic fibrosis (CF). According to an article from PR Newswire (http://dtn.fm/uyF9L), there are approximately 70,000 people living with cystic fibrosis worldwide, with 1,000 new cases diagnosed each year. In addition, 50% of children with CF suffer from EPI from the moment they are born.
According to TransparencyMarketReserarch.com (http://dtn.fm/0tvSc), the EPI market is growing at an astronomical rate, and this is not expected to slow, since the number of patients diagnosed with diabetes is expected to grow to approximately 366 million by the end of 2030. PR Newswire reported an anticipated expansion of the market at a CAGR of over 8% between 2015 and 2023, allowing it to reach just under $3 billion.
Unfortunately, despite the expected market growth, current EPI treatments have a number of limitations. Aside from a healthy diet, the current treatment for EPI is Pancreatic Enzyme Replacement Therapy (PERT), but not only are these treatments not very effective, they also show a lack of stability in an acidic environment and carry a high pill burden, which can be highly inconvenient for patients.
Luckily, AzurRx BioPharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: AZRX), a development stage biopharmaceutical company focused on creating treatments for patients suffering from gastrointestinal diseases such as EPI, is currently in Phase IIa of the development of MS1819 lipase, a non-systemic, yeast-derived recombinant enzyme.
This orally-administered capsule is not only showing significant potential for the treatment of EPI in patients with chronic pancreatitis and cystic fibrosis; it is also demonstrating activity in long chain fats and stability in protease and bile salt environments. MS1819 lipase could give patients suffering from EPI the chance to reduce their pill burden from 25 to 40 pills a day to as little as five to eight.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.AzurRx.com