UK life sciences group BTG has moved its migraine candidate BGC20-1531 into clinical trials, triggering a milestone payment of £250,000 to Asterand, from which it bought rights to the drug in 2006.

The group said it has started dosing volunteers in a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled Phase I study, which is designed to assess the drug’s safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetic profile as an oral treatment for migraine headaches.

Around 10% to 20% of the world’s population is estimated to suffer from migraines, classed by the World Health Organisation as one of the top 20 causes of disability. But currently available therapies – such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and triptans – often fail to bring sufficient pain relief to sufferers and can induce gastrointestinal or cardiovascular side effects, highlighting the urgent need for more treatment options.

Novel approach
BTG will certainly be hoping that its new candidate can meet this demand for more effective and safer migraine therapies, particularly as it is based on a novel approach to treating the condition.

BGC20-1531 is an EP4 receptor antagonist which has been shown in in vitro studies to prevent vasodilatation of certain arteries in the brain, which is thought to underlie migraine pain. Furthermore, EP4 receptors are discretely localised, the drug’s overall safety profile may be favourable to that of marketed therapies, the group said.

The group has enjoyed a period of positive news flow over the recent months, both on the financial and pipeline side. Its first six months of the year 2007/8 saw revenues more than double to £47.6 million and, on the development front, a Phase II study of Varisolve - the microfoam sclerosant for varicose veins and venous stasis ulcers - is on track to end this, while results from Phase I trials of its sleep apnea (BGC20-0166) and head lice (BGC20-0582) treatments are expected in the first quarter.