Global Impact

Environmental enteropathy

As part of our commitment to global impact, Pantheryx is investigating the use of its product candidate PTX-1001 for the dietary management of environmental enteropathy.

Global Impact

Environmental enteropathy

As part of our commitment to global impact, Pantheryx is investigating the use of its product candidate PTX-1001 for the dietary management of environmental enteropathy.

Environmental enteropathy is associated with early stunting and mortality. While there is no agreed upon case definition of environmental enteropathy, it is caused by repeated or chronic enteric infections and is characterized by immune activation and villous atrophy in the small intestines. It interferes with absorption of nutrients and underlies a cycle of malnutrition and debilitating infection. It affects most infants with poor sanitation in developing countries and is associated with half of all infant mortality. While histology is the diagnostic gold standard, there are several laboratory tests which seem to indicate enteropathy. However, none of the tests have been validated.

Enteropathy is fully reversible upon removal from the environmental exposures. This seems to be what occurs with, for example, healing in returned Peace Corps Volunteers. In children living in developing countries, treatments may slow the progression based on laboratory indicators but none have been show to stabilize or reverse it.

Healing likely requires nutritional support, and the duration of intervention is also an important consideration. Current food therapy for malnourished children with ready-to-use therapeutic foods requires at least 30-days of intervention so that duration seems practical and feasible.  Other nutritional interventions, such as micronutrients (iron/vitamin A/zinc sprinkles) or iodine fortified salt may be given daily throughout childhood. Clinical trials of interventions for enteropathy have required up to six months of use.

Any long-term intervention would need to be safe, tolerable, easily administered, and stable.  As the poorest are most commonly affected by enteropathy, cost is also an important driver. However, the societal gains to treating enteropathy and thus cost-effectiveness are potentially large.