San Diego’s Ardea Biosciences Sees Potential for Gout Drug in Combination Treatment

10/19/09

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that RDEA 594 can reduce the amount of uric acid in patients’ blood without serious side effects. But the study also shows RDEA 594 is no more effective than allopurinol. According to the poster presentation, “response rates seen with RDEA 594 were consistent with that seen with currently marketed products…”

Gout is a form of arthritis caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints. The condition can cause redness, swelling and pain; the first sign of gout is typically a swollen, painful big toe. Gout affects 2.1 million Americans, most of them men, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, estimates vary, and Ardea told investors today that the number of potential patients in the U.S. could exceed 5 million. The majority of gout sufferers are men. RDEA 594 steps up the amount of uric acid excreted in urine; about 90 percent of people with gout excrete too little uric acid. RDEA 594 works differently from allopurinol, which reduces the buildup of uric acid in the blood stream. This difference in the mechanism of action is one reason why Ardea believes combination drug treatments make sense.

Ardea started work on RDEA 594 after observing an experimental HIV drug reduced levels of uric acid in the blood. Sensing potential opportunity in gout, a disease with few approved treatments, the company did some further research and learned that a metabolite of the HIV drug—a molecule shed when the HIV drug broke down in the body—was responsible. RDEA 594 is a form of that metabolite.

Also on the call, Quart gave investors an update on Ardea’s cash position. He said the company expects to have $50 million to $55 million in cash at the end of 2009, providing it with enough funds to continue operations through the first quarter of 2011.

Denise Gellene is a former Los Angeles Times science writer and regular contributor to Xconomy. You can reach her at dgellene@xconomy.com Follow @

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