Nocion preps for Phase III with $62M backing for chronic cough therapy

04 Mar 2024
Phase 2Phase 3Drug Approval
Nocion Therapeutics on Monday said it raised $62 million in a Series B round to advance development of an inhaled treatment it hopes will help silence unrelenting bouts of coughing.
"There is a real need for novel treatments beyond P2X3 antagonists and we believe that… taplucanium has the potential to become a novel modality for refractory chronic cough patients," said Pini Orbach, head of pharma at Arkin Bio Capital, which co-led the fundraise along with Monograph Capital.
P2X3 disappointments
Hopes for the P2X3 class fizzled last December after Merck & Co. failed for a second time in its bid to secure an FDA approval for gefapixant after the agency concluded the candidate did not meet the efficacy bar when it comes to treating refractory or unexplained chronic coughrefractory or unexplained chronic cough. The drug is authorised in the EU and Japan, however, under the name Lyfnua.
Similarly, Bayer scrapped an Evotec-partnered P2X3 antagonistP2X3 antagonist programme in 2022. The pair had been working on filapixant (BAY 1902607) and eliapixant (BAY 1817080), both of which were associated with a concerning level of taste-related side effects.
Broader mechanism
Nocion says its dry-powder inhalation treatment, currently in Phase IIb testing, could overcome the limitations of previous cough therapies. Taplucanium, formerly NTX-1175, belongs to a new class of compounds called permanently charged sodium channel blockers (CSCBs), which the company refers to as "nocions." These molecules are designed to preferentially target activated nociceptors, the sensory neurons responsible for triggering cough, itch, and pain responses.
Unlike other investigational cough therapies, such as P2X3 receptor antagonists, which target a specific large pore channel (LPC), taplucanium gains access to the nociceptor through any open LPC. Once inside, nocions block sodium channels responsible for initiating the pathological cough response. Moreover, because they are charged, nocions are essentially trapped inside target cells, allowing them to provide a targeted and sustained effect.
Taplucanium’s broad mechanism of action has shown significant antitussive effects in preclinical models of cough, according to the company.
Phase III readiness
CEO Richard Batycky said proceeds from the Series B will enable the company to conduct additional toxicology and product development, "with an eye towards being ready for Phase III clinical trials."
The fundraise included contributions from new and existing investors such as Canaan Partners, F-Prime Capital, Mass General Brigham Ventures, Mission BioCapital and Osage University Partners. Nocion has raised $122 million since its founding in 2018.
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