Pharmacokinetics and Safety Studies in Rodent Models Support Development of EPICERTIN as a Novel Topical Wound-Healing Biologic for Ulcerative Colitis 


Tusé, D., Reeves, M., Royal, J., Hamorsky, K. T., Ng, H., Arolfo, M., … & Matoba, N. (2022). Pharmacokinetics and safety studies in rodent models support development of EPICERTIN as a novel topical wound-healing biologic for ulcerative colitis. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 380(3), 162-170.


The novel wound-healing biologic EPICERTIN, a recombinant analog of cholera toxin B subunit, is in early development for the management of ulcerative colitis. This study established for the first time the pharmacokinetics (PK), bioavailability (BA), and acute safety of EPICERTIN in healthy and dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitic mice and healthy rats. For PK and BA assessments, single administrations of various concentrations of EPICERTIN were given intravenously or intrarectally to healthy and colitic C57BL/6 mice and to healthy Sprague-Dawley rats. After intravenous administration to healthy animals, the drug’s plasma half-life (t 1/2) for males and females was 0.26 and 0.3 hours in mice and 19.4 and 14.5 hours in rats, respectively. After intrarectal administration, drug was detected at very low levels in only four samples of mouse plasma, with no correlation to colon epithelial integrity. No drug was detected in rat plasma. A single intrarectal dose of 0.1 µM (0.6 µg/mouse) EPICERTIN significantly facilitated the healing of damaged colonic epithelium as determined by disease activity index and histopathological scoring, whereas 10-fold higher or lower concentrations showed no effect. For acute toxicity evaluation, healthy rats were given a single intrarectal administration of various doses of EPICERTIN with sacrifice on Day 8, recording body weight, morbidity, mortality, clinical pathology, and gross necropsy observations. There were no drug-related effects of toxicological significance. The no observed adverse effect level (intrarectal) in rats was determined to be 5 µM (307 µg/animal, or 5.2 µg drug/cm2 of colorectal surface area), which is 14 times the anticipated intrarectally delivered clinical dose.


EPICERTIN is a candidate wound-healing biologic for the management of ulcerative colitis. This study determined for the first time the intravenous and intrarectal pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of the drug in healthy and colitic mice and healthy rats, and its acute safety in a dose-escalation study in rats. An initial therapeutic dose in colitic mice was also established. EPICERTIN delivered intrarectally was minimally absorbed systemically, was well tolerated, and induced epithelial wound healing topically at a low dose.  

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