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Newton biotech gets FDA approval for digestion treatment

Newton-based Alcresta Pharmaceuticals said Wednesday it has received federal approval to market its flagship product, Relizorb, which helps people who use feeding tubes better digest their food.

Relizorb is a “digestive cartridge” that mimics the enzymes usually produced by the pancreas, helping to break down fats and allowing patients to get more nutrition from feeding tube formula.

The company said the approval of Relizorb by the US Food and Drug Administration opens a large market opportunity, in particular for premature infants, people with cystic fibrosis, and patients with cancers that affect digestion.

Overall, the company said, about 344,000 people use feeding tubes at home, while another 613,000 patients in intensive care units at hospitals use enteral feeding. Many of these people have comprised pancreatic function, which makes it difficult to absorb certain vitamins and fatty acids and can lead to malnutrition and undesired weight loss.

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Launched in 2012, Alcresta has raised $20 million from investors led by Bessemer Venture Partners, Frazier Healthcare, and Third Rock Ventures.

Alcresta’s board chairman Alexey Margolin also is the chief executive of Allena Pharmaceuticals, a biotech working on a treatment for kidney stones that shares an address, funding, and much of the same management team as Alcresta.

Margolin also cofounded Alnara Pharmaceuticals, which was acquired by Eli Lilly for $380 million in 2010.


Dan Adams can be reached at dadams@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanielAdams86.