Digested Read: Breakthroughs from DDW 2024

The human digestive system contains eight organs and has its own nervous system. It can be affected by our emotions and is ruled by a two-way communication network known as the gut-brain axis, a complex network of chemicals, nerve cells, and microbes.

Each year, Digestive Disease Week (DDW) brings together professionals working in gastroenterology, hepatology, GI endoscopy, and gastrointestinal surgery to learn about critical medical advancements and new products that may improve outcomes for patients with GI disease. DDW 2024 took place in Washington D.C. last week, and attracted more than 13,000 attendees.

With the rising incidence of colorectal cancer among younger patients, DDW is now more important than ever. Reports say that in 2019, 20% of colorectal cancer diagnoses were in patients under 55, which is double the rate in 1995.

In older patients, colorectal cancer is typically attributed to obesity, sedentary lifestyle, the Western diet, and high sugar intake, but researchers are saying this doesn’t explain the continued rise in cases in younger patients. According to the Yale School of Medicine, the worrying trend will likely be explained by environmental and dietary factors that are yet to be identified.

The biggest news stories to come out of DDW 2024 included a blood test for colorectal cancer, an oral rinse that may lead to early detection of gastric cancer, an endoscopic procedure that burns the stomach lining that may help reduce the “hunger hormone” and may lead to weight loss, and diet as a therapy for ulcerative colitis.

PRISM MarketView took a look at the companies behind some of this year’s breakthroughs.

Guardant Health (GH)

Guardant’s Health announced last week that its Shield™ blood test for colorectal cancer (CRC) has received strongly recommended approval from the FDA’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee. The non-invasive diagnostic has demonstrated safety and effectiveness in adults age 45 and older who are at average risk for the disease. Commenting on the news, AmirAli Talasaz, co-CEO of Guardant Health, said, “Despite the importance of detecting colorectal cancer early, there are notable barriers that can deter average-risk Americans from completing existing screening methods. Shield effectively detects cancer at an early stage when it is most treatable.” Following the news, Guardant’s share price was $25.52, and its market cap stands at $3.12 billion.

Monte Rosa Therapeutics (GLUE)

Monte Rosa Therapeutics demonstrated in preclinical studies presented at DDW 2024 that MRT-6160, a VAV1-directed molecular glue degrader (MGD), inhibits colitis disease progression and colon inflammation, lowers inflammatory mucosal cytokines, and reduces expression of IBD-associated genes in a colitis model. The company expects to initiate a Phase 1 study in mid-2024 with topline data expected in Q1 2025. Monte Rosa’s share price stands at $4.16 and the company has a market cap of $254.38 million.

Biodexa Pharmaceuticals (BDRX)

Shares in Biodexa Pharmaceuticals soared 128% on Tuesday last week after the company reported positive Phase 2 clinical trial results from its newly licensed eRapa™ in Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) at the 2024 Digestive Disease Week Annual Meeting. eRapa is a proprietary oral tablet formulation of rapamycin, also known as sirolimus. The company’s Phase 2 open-label study, which was conducted in seven U.S. centers of excellence in 30 adult patients, demonstrated an 83% non-progression rate at six months. Biodexa’s share price is $1.03 and its market cap is $5.76 million.

Organovo Holdings (ONVO)

Organovo presented data at DDW 2024 demonstrating the potential of its lead clinical-stage compound, FXR314, in combination with tofacitinib for treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) using 3D models and preclinical models. Key findings showed that FXR314 and tofacitinib improved various measures of intestinal barrier function, inflammation, and fibrosis at optimal concentrations. In addition, FXR314 alone improved measures of colon health and colon histopathology similarly to approved IBD therapies. Organovo’s share price is currently $0.99 and its market cap stands at $12.95 million.



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Digested Read: Breakthroughs from DDW 2024

Catie Corcoran

Biotech Editor