Guangrun Health Industry led the funding round with participation from other investors including Reichstein Biotech (HK) Co. Limited, a subsidiary of Arthrosi’s Chinese partner ApicHope Pharmaceuticals. The cash will be used to finance the development of Arthrosi’s phase 2b-stage drug AR882 and other programs in its pipeline.
Gout is a common form of arthritis where joints such as in the big toe can become very painful. Lumps called tophi sometimes form where uric acid forms crystals in the joints. The symptoms can appear in brief “flares” and disappear again.
According to Arthrosi’s website, the first line of therapy in treating gout is a drug called allopurinol, but not all patients respond to the treatment. Other medications including febuxostat and pegloticase can be used, but can cause unpleasant side effects. It adds that there is no gout medication able to keep urate levels in the blood consistently low enough to reduce flares and tophi in gout.
AR882 is designed to block URAT1, a protein that stops urates from passing into urine. Taking this drug once daily is intended to reduce the amount of uric acid that can build up in the joints and treat flares and tophi.
In January this year, Arthrosi unveiled promising results from a phase 2b trial showing that AR882 has the potential to lower serum urate levels to the point where it could reduce flares and tophi could be treated faster than with current treatments. At the time, the company commented that it looked forward to meeting with regulatory agencies to take the program to phase 3 trials.
"I am not aware of any other molecule that has shown such promising results," said Litain Yeh, CEO of Arthrosi, in a public release. "We continue to be extremely positive about how AR882 can address the significant unmet need in the gout space.
“In the U.S. alone there are 9 million people who suffer with limited treatment options. The Series D financing and continued partnership with ApicHope will accelerate the development of AR882 and other groundbreaking drugs in Western countries and in Asia."
In 2021, Arthrosi set up a joint venture with ApicHope’s subsidiary Ruiao Biopharmaceutical Technology to develop AR882 in the greater China area. The partnership would also let, Arthrosi prepare a second candidate drug called AR035 for the Investigational New Drug (IND) preclinical stage for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.
In addition, Arthrosi is developing AR882 for the treatment of chronic kidney disease in phase 1 trials.