LAVAL, Quebec–(BUSINESS WIRE)–BELLUS Health Inc. (TSX: BLU) (“BELLUS Health” or the “Company”), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of chronic cough and other hypersensitization-related disorders, today announced the appointment of Dr. Catherine Bonuccelli, MD to the role of Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Bonuccelli is a pediatric pulmonologist that brings over 20 years of pharmaceutical experience with significant expertise in clinical and product development of respiratory and non-respiratory products.
“Dr. Bonuccelli has the ideal scientific and product development background to help advance the study of BLU-5937 for the treatment of chronic cough,” said Roberto Bellini, president and CEO of BELLUS Health. “We look forward to leveraging her deep proficiency in respiratory diseases, and her substantial development expertise in bringing compounds through the clinical development lifecycle, in order to fulfill our mission of helping patients overcome the burden of chronic cough.”
“I am delighted to be joining BELLUS Health, as the opportunity to help address the unmet need in chronic cough is of undeniable interest to me,” said Dr. Bonuccelli. “Throughout my career, I have strived to advance the scientific understanding of respiratory diseases, and chronic cough is a substantially under-treated condition. The advances that BELLUS Health has made to date, and the potential of BLU-5937 to be a differentiated therapy for chronic cough, made it an easy decision for me to become part of this team. I look forward to leading the development of this important clinical program.”
Prior to joining BELLUS Health, Dr. Bonuccelli held a number of leadership positions focusing on the late-stage clinical development of large and small molecule programs in the respiratory and inflammation therapeutic areas. During her more than 20-year tenure with AstraZeneca, she played a number of roles, including Global Medicines Clinical Vice President for the Inflammation, Neuroscience, & Respiratory Therapeutic Area, and Therapy Area Clinical Vice President, Respiratory and Inflammation. In these positions, she had oversight for all aspects of late-stage clinical development, including product strategy and creation of Phase III-IV study protocols and design for inhaled, oral and biologic products including Symbicort and Fasenra. She was also responsible for designing and delivering brand lifecycle management opportunities, creating long-term portfolio strategies, and managing medical and scientific staff. Dr. Bonuccelli subsequently spent more than four years serving as US Medical Affairs Respiratory Therapeutic Area Head for GSK. In this capacity, she oversaw all medical support activities for the company’s portfolio of respiratory treatments.
Dr. Bonuccelli earned her MD, and was an Intern, Resident, Research Fellow, and Clinical Fellow, at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. She has authored 31 publications and abstracts, is a member of several prominent boards, and has been licensed in three states.
BLU-5937, a highly selective P2X3 antagonist – (>1500 fold) for human P2X3 receptors versus P2X2/3 receptors – has the potential to be an important treatment option for chronic cough and chronic pruritus patients.
The P2X3 receptor in the cough reflex pathway is a rational target for treating chronic cough, and it has been validated in multiple clinical studies. With a low selective P2X3 antagonist therapy for chronic cough, an adverse effect on taste perception is a well-known and widely-documented tolerability issue. The Company believes that a highly selective P2X3 antagonist can reduce coughing in patients with chronic cough, while maintaining taste function, by not inhibiting P2X2/3 receptors.
In addition to chronic cough and chronic pruritus, BLU-5937 may potentially have clinical benefit in other afferent hypersensitization-related disorders. BELLUS Health is exploring how P2X3 activation can contribute to irritation and pain, and whether inhibition of P2X3 receptors may be able to help treat these afferent hypersensitization-related disorders.
About BELLUS Health (www.bellushealth.com)
BELLUS Health is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of chronic cough and other hypersensitization-related disorders. The Company’s product candidate, BLU-5937, is being developed for the treatment of chronic cough and chronic pruritus (chronic itch).
Chronic cough is a cough lasting more than eight weeks and is associated with significant adverse physical, social and psychosocial effects on health and quality of life. It is estimated that approximately 26 million adults in the United States suffer from chronic cough with more than 2.6 million having refractory chronic cough lasting for more than a year. There is no specific therapy approved for refractory chronic cough and treatment options are limited.
Chronic pruritus is a persistent condition lasting more than six weeks which can be debilitating and significantly impacts quality of life. It is a hallmark of many conditions, including atopic dermatitis (eczema). It is estimated that atopic dermatitis affects more than 16.9 million adults in the United States.
Certain statements contained in this news release, other than statements of fact that are independently verifiable at the date hereof, may constitute “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Canadian securities legislation and regulations and other applicable securities laws. Such statements, based as they are on the current expectations of management, inherently involve numerous important risks, uncertainties and assumptions, known and unknown, many of which are beyond BELLUS Health Inc.’s control. Risk factors that may affect BELLUS Health’s future results include but are not limited to: the ability to expand and develop its project pipeline, the ability to obtain financing, the impact of general economic conditions, general conditions in the pharmaceutical industry, changes in the regulatory environment in the jurisdictions in which BELLUS Health does business, stock market volatility, fluctuations in costs, changes to the competitive environment due to consolidation, achievement of forecasted burn rate, potential payments/outcomes in relation to indemnity agreements and contingent value rights, achievement of forecasted pre-clinical and clinical trial milestones and that actual results may vary once the final and quality-controlled verification of data and analyses has been completed. In addition, the length of BELLUS Health’s product candidates’ development process, their market size and commercial value, as well as the sharing of proceeds between BELLUS Health and its potential partners from potential future revenues, if any, are dependent upon a number of factors. Consequently, actual future results and events may differ materially from the anticipated results and events expressed in the forward-looking statements. BELLUS Health believes that expectations represented by forward-looking statements are reasonable, yet there can be no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. The reader should not place undue reliance, if any, on any forward-looking statements included in this news release. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made, and BELLUS Health is under no obligation and disavows any intention to update publicly or revise such statements as a result of any new information, future event, circumstances or otherwise, unless required by applicable legislation or regulation. Please see BELLUS Health Inc.’s public filings with the Canadian securities regulatory authorities, including the Annual Information Form, for further risk factors that might affect BELLUS Health and its business.