Tranzyme Pharma of the USA says it will explore strategic alternatives after two of its investigational drugs suffered clinical setbacks.

The company says it is looking at the possibility of "a merger, sale, other form of business combination or other transaction to maximise value". The company has retained a financial advisor and legal counsel to assist with the review but noted there is no set timetable.

At the end of last year, Tranzyme discontinued a Phase IIb programme in diabetic patients receiving its oral ghrelin agonist TZP-102  for the management of symptoms of gastroparesis, due to insufficient efficacy. Also in May 2012, the gastrointestinal drug candidate ulimorelin, co-developed with Norgine, failed in two Phase III trials as a potential treatment for postoperative ileum.

Tranzyme's pipeline now consists of two preclinical programmes - TZP-201, a motilin antagonist for chemotherapy-induced diarrhoea, and TZP-301, a ghrelin antagonist for metabolic diseases. However, observers believe that the company's value lies in its MATCH chemistry technology.

Successful pact with B-MS

In December 2009, Tranzyme linked up with Bristol-Myers Squibb to discover small molecule macrocyclic compounds using MATCH and earlier this month transferred compounds to the US drugs major for further development.  across multiple drug targets. As part of this agreement, Tranzyme retained the option to further pursue select collaboration targets for internal development.

Excluding royalties and sales milestones, Tranzyme could bank up to $80 million for each target programme. Indeed, B-MS has been mentioned as a potential buyer.