Auris Medical Provides Update on Intranasal Betahistine Programs

Auris Medical Holding AG, a clinical-stage company dedicated to developing therapeutics that address important unmet medical needs in neurotology and CNS disorders, recently provided an update on its intranasal betahistine development programs.

In December 2018, the company announced the acquisition of an Orphan Drug Designation for betahistine in the treatment of obesity associated with Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS). The transaction is now closed and the transfer of the designation to Auris Medical has since been recorded by the US FDA. PWS is a rare genetic disorder characterized by progressive obesity, behavioral issues, delayed cognition, and sleep disturbances. In a related transaction, the company acquired exclusive rights to in-license two US patents relating to the use of betahistine for the treatment of depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks.

In the intranasal betahistine programs for the treatment of acute vertigo (AM-125) and for the prevention of antipsychotic-induced weight gain (AM-201), the preparations for the respective proof-of-concept trials have advanced well. In both cases, the clinical trial applications have been submitted, and the company expects the trials to start recruitment in the first quarter of 2019. In the AM-125 program, the Phase 2 “TRAVERS” trial will enroll 138 patients suffering from acute vertigo following surgical removal of a vestibular schwannoma, a tumor growing behind the inner ear. In the AM-201 program, a Phase 1b pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamics trial will enroll 50 healthy volunteers who will receive either AM-201 or placebo concomitantly with olanzapine over four weeks.

Betahistine is a small molecule structural analog of histamine, which acts as an agonist at the H1 and as an antagonist at the H3 histamine receptors. Unlike histamine, it crosses the blood-brain-barrier. It is known to enhance inner ear and cerebral blood flow, increase histamine turnover and enhance histamine release in the brain, increase release of acetylcholine, dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain and to result in general brain arousal. Betahistine for oral administration is approved in about 115 countries, with the US being a notable exception, for the treatment of vertigo and Meniere’s disease. The compound has a very good safety profile, yet it is also known that its clinical utility is held back by poor bioavailability. Intranasal administration of betahistine has been shown to result in 6 to 29 times higher bioavailability.

Auris Medical is a Swiss biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing therapeutics that address important unmet medical needs in neurotology and central nervous system disorders. The company is focused on the development of intranasal betahistine for the treatment of vertigo (AM-125) and for the treatment of antipsychotic-induced weight gain and somnolence (AM-201). These projects have gone through two Phase 1 trials and will move into proof-of-concept studies in 2019. In addition Auris Medical has two Phase 3 programs under development: Sonsuvi (AM-111) for acute inner ear hearing loss and Keyzilen (AM-101) for acute inner ear tinnitus. The company was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Zug, Switzerland. The shares of Auris Medical Holding AG trade on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol “EARS.”