UH Alum Starts Company focused on Gut-Related Diseases

Picture of Rashim Singh

Houston startup company Sanarentero, supported by research grants from the National Institutes of Health, is focused on “developing therapies for gut-related diseases and disorders,” according to Rashim Singh, Ph.D., co-founder of Sanarentero and the University of Houston Alumnus. Singh co-founded the company with Ming Hu, Ph.D., a professor of pharmaceutics and the Diane S.L. Chow professor of Drug Development and Discovery in the College of Pharmacy at UH.

Sanarentero comes from two Latin words: Sanare in Latin means Healing or to Heal. Entero in Latin means intestine. 

 “Therefore, we named it Sanarentero, which means Healing Gut,” said Singh.

Sanarentero will focus on healing, not just treating gut diseases, because it will seek to prevent the diseases using drugs, probiotics, herbs and natural products.

Currently, the company's first product is for the prevention of irinotecan-induced diarrhea in cancer patients, which the company will seek approval from Food and Drug Administration as a botanical.

“Annually up to 80% of 4.5 million United States citizens undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment experience poor quality of life due to chemotherapy-induce diarrhea. Certain cancer drugs, such as irinotecan and TKIs, have a higher potential of causing intestinal injury. 10-15% of cancer patients on Irinotecan can have life-threatening severe delayed-onset diarrhea, which may require hospitalization, dose interruption or reduction and higher healthcare cost. All current treatments are opioid-based drugs, mainly causing symptomatic reliefs, and often lead to cycles of diarrhea and constipation throughout the cancer therapy,” Singh said.

Singh said that non-opioid based therapy is key to addressing the problems associated with the current chemotherapy-induced diarrhea management therapies.

They are confident an FDA botanical would “reduce the occurrence and severity of diarrhea and improve the patient's quality of life and health outcomes. [It would also] also prevent the gut damage associated with multiple cycles of chemotherapy.”

Their goal right now is to prevent the occurrence and reduce the severity of diarrhea in cancer patients.

“We may later extend this technology to other areas. We aim to get IND (Investigational New Drug) and start clinical studies in 2022-2023, Singh said.

Recently Sanarentero received its first SBIR grant of $325,000, funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The funding will be used to help develop their first botanical.

“We will soon be receiving a new STTR grant of $400,000 from National Cancer Institute for the development of bioengineered bacteria to detoxify chemo drugs in the intestine,” Singh said.

The company is currently conducting preclinical studies in order to file IND for testing the safety of their proprietary botanical in adult cancer patients.