Sunday, January 21, 2007

Radius: "Improving Life from the Inside Out"

This article was my first foray into biotech reporting.

I found the information fascinating. It was a complicated concept to present: four drugs, all different, which helped patients with incredibly difficult conditions that caused them pain, and improved upon drugs that could often make things worse before they got better.

Because biotech is not always as easily explained as, say, banking, I chose to make a multimedia project for my online publishign class that expanded upon what I wrote in the article, and had visual aides to describe concepts such as hormonal treatments and included a timeline that detailed the process that drugs must go through in order to be approved. That project is now online at (You can also click the link above.)

Because it was in a supplement, it is not available online through the regular BBJ subscription service; I have included the full article below.

From the 10/27 biotech supplement to the BBJ:

Through a licensing agreement with the Norwegian company Karo Bio, Cambridge’s Radius Health Inc. has stepped
a little further into a leadership role in the development of the selective androgen receptor modulators — known as SARMs — into drug treatments.

Radius and Karo Bio announced the licensing deal last month, and Radius is working to develop the molecules into a compound that could be the first orally administered anabolic drug for osteoporosis and related conditions. SARMs activate androgen receptors in different tissues, increasing bone
mineral density and muscle mass.

Radius President and CEO C. Richard Lyttle, a former top-level scientist for Wyeth, said his the work on the SARM licensed from Karo Bio — now in the preclinical stage — is one of four compounds the 3-year-old Radius has in the “pipeline.”

Radius was founded in 2003 with first round financing of $24 million as a company named Nuvios, a collaboration between four Boston science leaders and three major institutional investors: HealthCare Ventures, MPM Capital, and Oxford Bioscience Partners. Radius’ strategy is to improve upon existing drugs on the market that aggressively treat problems such as menopause, endometriosis, and bone loss — all linked to the modulation of hormones in the body such as estrogen and testosterone — without the often painful side-effect current drugs cause.

The SARM drug furthest along in testing is a parathyroid hormone known as BA058, which, when injected daily, can actually rebuild bone and muscle in patients whose muscles have atrophied.

“You’re not going to stop the aging process, but you’re going to have a better quality of life,” said Lyttle.

Radius is developing in conjunction with Esai Co. Ltd., a Japanese company, to develop selective estrogen receptor modulators to treat both osteoporosis and hot flashes in menopausal women. Radius is also working on an estrogen receptor beta molecule that will target infl ammatory diseases such rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis, a painful condition found
in younger women.

Dr. John Potts, director of research at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Jackson Distinguished Professor of Clinical
Medicine at Harvard Medical School, is a founder and a member of the scientifi c advisory board at Radius. To fund further drug development, he said, Radius is seeking $50 million in a second round of funding. Twenty venture companies have ex-
pressed interest, Potts said. “Biotechs are nimble, but they’re always half-starved, so it’s nice when Radius finds lots of people to help us fill that second, bigger war chest,” Potts said.


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