Biopharmaceutical company Atopix Therapeutics has obtained a £1.7m grant from the UK Biomedical Catalyst fund to advance the development of OC459 as a treatment for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis, a form of eczema.

Acquired by Atopix from Oxagen, OC459 is a once-daily potent and selective CRTH2 antagonist against asthma at doses as low as 25mg.

Atopix CEO Mark Payton said the funding creates the possibility of providing the first safe, oral, once-a-day therapy for the disease.

"Furthermore, since the mechanism is also effective in asthma and allergic rhinitis this would provide a ‘one-stop’ solution for those patients suffering from multiple co-existing allergies, whose only long term alternative at present is multiple topical therapy, usually involving steroids," Payton said.

Atopix will study OC459 as once-daily treatment for a period of six months in patients with atopic dermatitis.

With the Eczema Activity Severity Index as the primary endpoint, the study intends to determine an effect on flares in atopic dermatitis.

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"Atopix will study OC459 as once-daily treatment for a period of six months in patients with atopic dermatitis."

The influence of functional genetic polymorphisms in CRTH2 on therapeutic response to OC459 will also be assessed in the study.

A G protein-coupled receptor, CRTH2 is selectively expressed by key cell types mediating allergic responses including Th2 lymphocytes, basophils and eosinophils, and is activated by an abundant lipid product of mast cells, prostaglandin D2.

CRTH2 antagonists block mast cell-dependent activation of Th2 lymphocytes and eosinophils, thereby reducing both allergic sensitisation and effector responses to allergen.

In severe allergic conditions, the prostaglandin D2/CRTH2 pathway is up-regulated and functional polymorphisms in CRTH2 are linked to asthma and atopic dermatitis.