12 June 2012

A drug developed at UCL and licenced by UCLB which aims to treat the effects of increased circulating ammonia levels due to cirrhosis of the liver has shown clear evidence of efficacy during clinical trials in Spain.

The drug – OCR-002, ornithine phenylacetate – has, in a first cohort of patients who were treated with it, been shown to reduce the amount of ammonia circulating in the blood after a 36 hour period. Ammonia levels decreased substantially after the 36 hour treatment period and remaind reduced for a sustained period afterwards.

The data was presented at the latest International Symposium for Hepatic Encephalopathy and Nitrogen Metabolism (ISHEN) in Grenaa, Denmark, and was announced after a trial at the Universitari Vall d’Hebron Research Institute in Barcelona.

Ammonia and other toxic substances can accumulate in the blood of patients with severe liver disease, due to the impairment of the organ’s ability to remove them. Without their removal, these substances can, in turn, impair the function of brain cells.

OCR-002, developed by Ocera Therapeutics, under licence from UCLB, was originally developed through the research of Professor Rajiv Jalan at UCL. The aim of the drug – through injection – is to prevent, and treat, hepatic encephalopathy (HE), a complication of acute liver failure associated with increased levels of circulating ammonia, by reducing the level of this chemical in the blood.

The Phase 2 clinical trial for the drug is continuing and the next stage will see a cohort of 48 patients with cirrhosis of the liver treated to confirm the promising results observed in this stage of the trial, in particular its tolerability and efficacy. It will measure whether ammonia in the blood of patients treated with OCR-002 declines and whether it is able to lead to improvements in HE.

It’s great to see this drug – invented and validated at UCL and then patented and licenced by UCLB go on to be success in the clinic,” said Dr Abbie Watts, Senior Business Manager at UCLB. “It’s an inspiring success story for innovators across the university”.

About UCLB
UCLB is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from the laboratory to market. UCLB supports UCL’s Grand Challenges of increasing UCL’s positive impact on and contribution to Global Health, Sustainable Cities, Intercultural Interaction and Human Wellbeing.

For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com