A Boonton biotech has launched operations after the collapse of Unigene Laboratories, anchored by a clean balance sheet and a growth strategy supported by proprietary technology that converts drug delivery systems to oral applications.
Enteris BioPharma Inc., previously the biotech business unit of Unigene Laboratories, was formally established in April and assembled core leadership this summer.
The Morris County company aims to enhance Peptelligence, the proprietary technology it inherited from Unigene. Enteris plans to apply that technology to existing peptide drugs and expand into small-molecule therapeutics, converting those currently only available in injectable forms — because of solubility or permeability issues — to oral formulations.
"We believe this creates a significant market opportunity for Enteris, given we are entering the small-molecule arena," said Brian Zietsman, president and chief financial officer.
Enteris said Peptelligence has been used in feasibility studies with biotech and pharmaceutical companies to move their products into clinical development, opening new avenues for patient care with simple tablet dosages.
The company believes Peptelligence holds promise in small therapeutics because tablet forms are an attractive alternative for many antibiotics, anti-infectives and painkillers, among other medicines, often taken via injection under hospital supervision.
Enteris said the goal is to increase convenience, thereby improving, while reducing costs.
"In many cases, these drugs when taken orally enable patients to self medicate," said Tim Saxon, vice president of business development.
Enteris BioPharma Inc. assembled its leadership in the past few months, appointing Zietsman; Nozer Mehta, chief science officer; and Paul Shields, as vice president of operations — all of whom worked with Unigene.
Enteris has since hired Saxon, who joined the company from Alacrita Consulting, where he consulted small pharmaceutical and biotech companies, aiding in international business development. He also held positions with pharmaceuticals Novartis and Wyeth.
Enteris is owned by Chicago investment firm Victory Park Capital, which purchased the asset after Unigene defaulted on debt in April. Unigene later filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Enteris employs 26, mostly scientists and its manufacturing team.
The early-stage company said it is generating revenue from feasibility studies, clinical trials and licensing transactions. Zietsman said Enteris is free of debt, unlike predecessor Unigene.
"Acquisitions are certainly something we will be on the lookout for, but initially the short-term focus will be on organic growth," Zietsman said.