Etrasimod's Potential Outside of Gastroenterology


Preston Klassen, MD, executive vice president of Arena Pharmaceuticals, discusses potential uses for etrasimod outside of inflammatory bowel disease

Every year at the Digestive Disease Week, a seemingly endless number of posters and presentations examine the use of just as many treatments for disease in gastroenterology.

This year was no different and one of the more talked about treatments was etrasimod, which is a treatment, from Arena Pharmaceuticals, that has therapeutic potential in a number of conditions including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and atopic dermatitis.

Preston Klassen, MD, MHS, executive vice president and head of research and development at Arena, sat down with MD Magazine® at DDW 2019 to discuss the potential uses for etrasimod and how large of a role patient compliance plays when creating new treatments.

MD Mag: What are some of the potential uses for etrasimod outside of irritable bowel syndrome/inflammatory bowel disease?

Klassen: While we are initiating our investigation with etrasimod. in the GI space with inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease. It is very clear that etrasimod, as a mechanism of action, has immunomodulatory properties and anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, it can be used across a variety of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. We are initiating, beyond the gastroenterology space, work in dermatology starting with atopic dermatitis in a phase 2 study that we'll be kicking off later this year and one could imagine a variety of disease conditions across a variety of therapeutic areas that are autoimmune or inflammatory in nature. There are many of them there could be at least 80 different types of indications for a drug like a etrasimod. So, we're excited about it and we're starting first anchoring on the GI space with IBD and then moving into dermatology and where we go from there will be predicated on some of those results that we see.

MD Mag: Why is it important to keep patient compliance in mind when creating new treatments?

Klassen: I think the great thing about etrasimod is it is a once-daily oral therapy and that seems to be the name of the game in developing new therapies for inflammatory bowel disease — IBD either all sort of colitis or Crohn's. There was, a number of years ago, a great therapeutic advancement with the development of biologics and biologics certainly have their place but they're also cumbersome to utilize in terms of their administration and we know that patients and physicians would prefer an oral therapy if it were effective enough and of course safe enough. So, this is the excitement that we have around etrasimod as an S1p modulator.

We believe that the phase 2 data that we've gathered to date shows that there's real potential in terms of having a very high degree of efficacy in an overall safe and tolerable drug that is, importantly, convenient for patients. So, that that is the underpinning of our excitement and we're beginning to initiate a phase 3 program and ulcerative colitis first, followed shortly thereafter by a Crohn's disease program.

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