Crinetics Pharmaceuticals Awarded NIH Phase-II SBIR Grant to Develop Drugs for Pituitary Tumors

SAN DIEGO — September 3, 2013 — San Diego-based Crinetics Pharmaceuticals announced today that it has been awarded a $2.2MM Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop novel drugs for the treatment of pituitary tumors. These tumors produce excess growth hormone resulting in a range of symptoms that can include gigantism, excess soft tissue growth, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, and vision loss, a condition called acromegaly.

Currently, acromegalic patients are treated with monthly injections of peptide drugs. These agents act at somatostatin receptors present at high density on these tumors to inhibit secretion of growth hormone. However, roughly half of acromegalic patients are unable to achieve adequate control of their disease with these drugs. Further, they require painful injections that can cause injection site reactions.

Crinetics is developing a novel class of small molecule oral somatostatin drugs with improved efficacy called “biased agonists”. Their activity is “biased” towards activating the intracellular signaling pathways that inhibit hormone secretion, while avoiding activation of the pathways that cause desensitization to the actions of drug. Researchers believe that desensitization is a major reason why existing peptide somatostatin drugs so frequently fail to adequately achieve long-term hormonal control. A portion of the grant will support investigation of the cellular activities of these drugs by Agnes Schonbrunn, Ph.D. at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School. “I am excited to continue to work with the team at Crinetics and have the opportunity to help translate our basic research into therapeutics that could improve patients’ lives,” Schonbrunn said. Schonbrunn, professor in the school’s Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology, is a world-renown expert in somatostatin signaling and the first to describe biased agonism at somatostatin receptors.

“Our goal is to provide a more effective, less painful, and more convenient option for patients suffering from acromegaly, while at the same time providing a more cost effective treatment paradigm for healthcare providers and payers. We believe a drug developed using our approach has the potential to become the dominant agent in this $2B market,” said Scott Struthers Ph.D., Founder and President of Crinetics. “This grant is also an important next step in our overall strategy of using non-dilutive funding mechanisms to build a pipeline of important new therapeutics,” continued Struthers.

About Crinetics Pharmaceuticals

Crinetics Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a startup company that discovers and develops novel therapeutics targeting peptide hormone receptors for the treatment of endocrine-related diseases and cancers. Crinetics is an employee-owned company, founded and operated by a team of scientists with a proven track record of drug discovery and development for endocrine diseases and women’s health.