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Crinetics Pharmaceuticals Awarded NIH Phase-I SBIR Grant to Develop Somatostatin Receptor Agonist Drugs for Ophthalmic Diseases

SAN DIEGO — April 28, 2014 — San Diego-based Crinetics Pharmaceuticals announced today that it has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the use of its oral, small molecule somatostatin receptor agonist drug candidates for the treatment of ophthalmic diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.  Currently, it is estimated that 11 million Americans suffer from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) – this number is expected to double in the next generation. Worldwide, the global diabetes epidemic has pushed the number of people suffering from diabetic retinopathy to an estimated 93 million.

“Only two drugs have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of AMD, and both require expensive, regular injections directly into the eye,” said Stephen Betz, Ph.D., Crinetics’ Vice President of Biology and principal investigator on this grant. “These treatments are based on blocking the action of VEGF proteins and can have adverse side effects, including conjunctival hemorrhage, eye pain, vitreous floaters, increased intraocular pressure, vitreous detachment, intraocular inflammation, and even retinal detachment. Our goal is to provide patients with an option that targets a novel mechanism in the form of a once daily pill.”

Previous animal studies have shown that direct injection of somatostatin peptides into the eye could be an effective anti-proliferative strategy for diabetic retinopathy and AMD. Crinetics is developing a novel class of orally-available small molecule somatostatin drugs for the treatment of acromegaly and peripheral neuroendrocrine tumors. Crinetics will use its compound library and knowledge of somatostatin receptor signaling as a starting point to develop new compounds capable of accessing the tissues of the posterior eye after oral administration.

“This project represents an important expansion of Crinetics’ efforts to develop drugs that target somatostatin signaling. If we’re successful, this could be a considerable improvement to millions of patients suffering from AMD and retinopathies,” said Scott Struthers Ph.D., Founder and President of Crinetics. “This award is also another step forward in our strategy of using grant funding to explore new therapeutic approaches and build a pipeline of important new drug candidates,” continued Struthers.

Crinetics Pharmaceuticals Inc. (www.crinetics.com) discovers and develops novel therapeutics targeting peptide hormone receptors for the treatment of endocrine-related diseases and cancers. Crinetics is an employee-owned company, founded and operated by a team of scientists with a proven track record of drug discovery and development for endocrine diseases and women’s health.

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