Scientific Research

Compton has discovered that an extract derived from a little researched type of frankincense (i.e. Boswellia frereana) has potent anti-inflammatory properties: B. frereana is native to Somaliland which is in northern Somalia. Unlike other members of the Boswellia family (whose boswellic acids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties), there are no boswellic acids present in B. frereana. Compton filed a patent application to protect the use of B. frereana in the treatment of a wide range of inflammation related diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease ("IBD"). The patent application proceeded to grant in various forms in Europe, US and China.

Compton has carried out considerable preclinical research on B. frereana including toxicity and efficacy studies.

Compton now wishes to take the B. frereana extract forward to Phase 1 human clinical trials, i.e. to test whether the extract is toxic to humans. No toxicity problem was identified in in vivo trials. Furthermore, the extract has long been taken orally as chewing gum in the Middle East. Assuming successful completion of Phase 1 clinical trials, Compton intends to outlicense the drug for the treatment of IBD, so that the outlicensee can take the drug through the more costly Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials.

IBD is a major health problem, particularly in Europe. The global IBD treatment market already exceeds $10bn and is set to reach nearly $15bn by 2025. The annual direct healthcare costs of treating IBD in Europe come to approximately €5bn. In terms of the socio-economic burden, IBD patients have a higher percentage of unemployment (10%), sick leave (3 to 6 weeks per annum), as well as leaving work through earlier retirement and disability (two fold increase), when compared with unaffected individuals. There is currently no drug which permanently cures IBD. Instead, drugs are prescribed to achieve remission, but patients relapse often moving on to biologic drugs which can have severe side effects, with surgery frequently the eventual outcome. Furthermore, the drug regimen of existing treatments can be onerous, leading to high rates of non-compliance by patients.

The most pernicious trend with IBD is that the age of onset is getting earlier. It is increasingly becoming a young person’s disease, which they have to live with for the rest of their lives. Given the chronic nature of the disease and the increases in both incidence and prevalence of IBD among the population, there is a clear unmet clinical need for a new therapy. Compared with current alternatives, Compton’s botanical drug, a natural product, will hopefully be more effective (thus delaying progress to more serious medication and surgery), with fewer side effects and a much easier drug regimen.

The drug’s socio-economic benefits in first world countries, particularly in Europe, would be significant for patients, healthcare providers and society as a whole. There will also be economic benefits in Somaliland (where B. frereana is harvested), one of the poorest parts of the world. Assuming the drug comes to market, Compton will commit to investing in the region as well as supporting local charities. Compton will also reinvest part of its royalty share of the drug sales in preclinical research into the use of the drug to treat other inflammation related diseases covered in Compton’s patents.

Outlicensing

Compton Group’s interest in research projects is primarily financial; we look to out-license the intellectual property at an early stage, typically after a patent application has been filed. Depending on the views of any joint venture partner, the terms of the licence will usually involve a nominal upfront fee with no milestone payments in return for a royalty share of the income when the product is eventually brought to the market. This gives the licensee the satisfaction of knowing that there will be no pay out to us unless and until the project is generating revenue. For our part, we will expect the licensee to use reasonable endeavours to push forward, at its own cost, with the commercialisation of the IP.

The next step

Should you have any technical enquiries please contact our research Director Dr Ahmed Ali by email alia@cardiff.ac.uk.

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Dr Ahmed Ali