• Companies to combine proprietary technologies to formulate an oral semaglutide (GLP-1 receptor agonist) product with enhanced bioavailability
  • Collaboration focused on overcoming the challenges of oral peptide delivery using a novel lipid technology to provide a more convenient treatment option for patients with diabetes and obesity
  • Potential to expand collaboration across multiple oral peptide products and combination therapies in growing global market

Cambridge, UK, 12 March 2024: TRx Biosciences Limited, a drug development company applying novel lipid technology to the oral delivery of challenging molecules and Arecor Therapeutics plc (AIM: AREC), the biopharmaceutical group advancing today’s therapies to enable healthier lives, today announced a research collaboration for the formulation development of an oral glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist product.

GLP-1 receptor agonists are a class of therapeutic peptides used to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity, in a global market predicted to reach $80-$100+ billion by 20301. Oral delivery of this class of drug is extremely challenging owing to the proteolytic nature of the digestive system which significantly reduces bioavailability. Injection remains the most common delivery form for therapeutic peptide drugs, limiting adoption, compliance and usage among patients, who would prefer a simpler, more practical oral therapy.

The only GLP-1 receptor agonist currently available to patients in pill form – Novo Nordisk’s semaglutide (Rybelsus®) – has oral bioavailability of less than 1%2. Using TRx Biosciences’ LipiCore™ oral delivery technology alongside Arecor’s formulation platform, Arestat™, the companies intend to jointly develop an oral GLP-1 receptor agonist product with enhanced physicochemical properties that can achieve higher oral bioavailability and stability.

Dr Robin Bannister, Chief Executive Officer of TRx Biosciences, said: “The effective oral delivery of peptides remains a ‘holy grail’, meaning patients that require the convenience of oral treatment can’t access the benefits of new peptide therapies. By combining TRx’s LipiCore™ technology with Arecor’s proven peptide expertise and Arestat™ platform, we create the opportunity to access novel oral uptake channels and protect peptides from damage in the gastrointestinal tract to solve this fundamental challenge. Semaglutide, given its immense potential in the treatment of diabetes and obesity, is a highly attractive starting point. Success with semaglutide may offer a path to multiple oral peptide products with enhanced absorption and efficacy.”

Sarah Howell, Chief Executive Officer of Arecor, said: “As the global market for GLP-1 receptor agonists grows and their use increases, significant challenges remain in their oral delivery. With current treatment options mostly limited to injectable therapies, many patients in need are unable to benefit from these highly effective treatments.  Arecor has an excellent track record developing difficult-to-achieve product profiles by deploying our Arestat™ technology to develop unique formulations specifically designed to overcome patient-focussed challenges. Alongside TRx Biosciences and its expertise in targeted oral drug delivery, we have an opportunity to develop an enhanced oral GLP-1 receptor agonist product.  In addition, if the initial research collaboration is successful, we would hope to leverage the technology to deliver other high value peptides via patient- preferred oral delivery formats. I look forward to providing further updates in due course.”

The collaboration provides scope for expansion, following the initial oral GLP-1 receptor agonist programme, to develop further oral peptide products. These include additional peptides and combination approaches which may be key in the treatment of obesity-related health conditions, as well as peptide products targeting multiple therapeutic areas.