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SEC Filings

OREXIGEN THERAPEUTICS, INC. filed this Form S-1/A on 04/09/2007
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the setpoint to slide up or down, causing overeating and obesity on the one hand or progressive weight loss and cachexia, a physical wasting disorder, on the other.
The brain contains numerous redundant circuits and compensatory mechanisms to preserve body weight, which should not be surprising given that maintenance of body weight is essential to survival. Such mechanisms are invoked in the presence of weight loss whether intentional (in the case of diet) or not (in the case of starvation). This explains the cause of a weight loss plateau. Moreover, in order to appropriately motivate humans to seek food, reward circuitries in the brain stimulate the urge to consume higher calorie food and in turn reward that behavior. The craving cycle is particularly intense with highly palatable foods, such as sweets.
Existing products cause some weight loss for most patients. We believe their modest effect stems from their failure to address these natural compensatory mechanisms in the body. As a result, most of these products have been vulnerable to a classic early weight loss plateau typically seen after several months of therapy. In addition, they generally do not address the psycho-behavioral elements that contribute to unhealthy eating behaviors and, ultimately, obesity. We have designed our product candidates to circumvent the body’s natural compensating mechanisms and drive weight loss further, beyond this commonly seen plateau. In addition, with Contrave in particular, we are attempting to go beyond the traditional approach to weight reduction by also targeting the underlying behavioral mechanisms of craving and reward that drive excess consumption.
The combinations we have chosen are based on the output of a low-throughput screening model developed by our co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Michael Cowley, Ph.D. We have obtained a co-exclusive license to this technology from Oregon Health & Science University, or OHSU. This screening technology uses a mouse model that allows us to quantify firing rates for specific neuronal populations using green fluorescent protein tagging. In particular, research has shown that there is one group of hypothalamic neurons called proopiomelanocortin, or POMC, neurons that play a critical role in managing weight. By exposing POMC neurons in our mouse model to varying concentrations of one or more drug products, we are able to measure the difference in firing activity of these neurons at baseline and over time. This permits us to predict whether a drug will produce weight loss and, more importantly, whether the addition of a second drug has a previously undiscovered synergistic effect on POMC firing rates. We have screened several known compounds as part of the model’s validation. Our lead compounds, Contrave and Empatic, both demonstrated a strong synergistic profile with respect to POMC firing rates in the model. Additionally, we have verified this predicted synergy in more traditional animal feeding studies. Both combinations have subsequently demonstrated this synergy in human clinical trials.
Our Lead Product Candidates
We are developing Contrave and Empatic for the treatment of obesity. Both product candidates have been prepared with combinations of chemical entities that, individually, have already received regulatory approval and have been commercialized previously. If we receive approval to market these product candidates in the United States or elsewhere, we anticipate that they will be produced and sold as single tablets to be taken orally twice a day.
Product Candidate
Drug Components
Trials Completed
Stage of Development
Commercial Rights
  Bupropion SR/ Naltrexone SR   Phase II, Phase IIb   Phase III   Orexigen (worldwide)
  Bupropion SR/ Zonisamide SR   Phase II   Ongoing Phase IIb   Orexigen (worldwide)
Contrave is a fixed dose combination of naltrexone SR and bupropion SR. We chose these constituents based on the results of our screening model as well as our understanding of the circuitries in the brain that regulate appetite and energy balance. In particular, naltrexone was chosen as a complement to bupropion in order to block compensating mechanisms that attempt to prevent long-term, sustained weight