Back to News

Escient Pharmaceuticals Initiates Clinical Proof-of-Concept Study of EP262, a First-in-Class Oral MRGPRX2 Antagonist, in Chronic Inducible Urticaria

First of three clinical proof-of-concept studies to be initiated in second half of 2023

Study will evaluate EP262 in ~30 patients with symptomatic dermographism and cold urticaria using an open-label design and objective endpoints

SAN DIEGO, Calif., September 25, 2023 — Escient Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage drug development company advancing novel small molecule therapeutics for systemic neuro-immune disorders, today announced that the first subject has been dosed in CALM-CIndU, an open label Phase 1b clinical proof-of-concept study of EP262 in subjects with chronic inducible urticaria (CIndU).   

By blocking activation of MRGPRX2 and degranulation of mast cells, EP262 has the potential to effectively treat multiple mast cell mediated diseases with an initial focus on chronic urticaria (hives) and atopic dermatitis (eczema). EP262 represents a novel, targeted approach to the treatment of these disorders with the potential for once-daily oral administration without the side effects observed with other approaches.

Chronic inducible urticaria is a debilitating condition driven by activation of mast cells in response to common triggers that are exceedingly difficult to avoid in daily life, resulting in an urgent need for novel therapeutic options” said Dr. Martin Metz, Professor of Dermatology and Allergy at Charité, Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, Germany. “MRGPRX2 antagonism with EP262 is an exciting and promising therapeutic approach in that it targets a novel pathway to specifically block non-IgE-mediated mast cell activation with once-daily oral dosing.”

CALM-CIndU is an open-label Phase 1b study designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability and pharmacodynamics of EP262 in approximately 30 patients with either symptomatic dermographism or cold urticaria, the two most common forms of CIndU.  Pharmacodynamic assessments include changes from baseline in disease-specific provocation thresholds that are used as objective markers both diagnostically and pharmacodynamically to quantify disease severity and response to treatment. EP262 will be administered orally, once daily, at a 150 mg dose for 4 weeks, followed by an off-treatment follow-up period.  More information about this study is available on (Identifier: NCT06050928).

Initiation of the CALM-CIndU study marks another important milestone in our quest to evaluate and harness the therapeutic potential of MRGPRX2 antagonism in a broad range of mast cell-mediated disorders” said Christian Weyer, M.D., M.A.S, Chief Medical Officer of Escient. “Following the successful completion of our Phase 1 first-in-human study earlier this year, our team is on track to initiate additional clinical proof-of-concept studies in chronic spontaneous urticaria and atopic dermatitis in the coming months.”

About EP262

EP262 is a potent, highly selective once-daily small molecule antagonist of MRGPRX2, a receptor expressed on mast cells that is activated by numerous ligands, including many peptides released from sensory neurons as well as other cell types.  In response to MRGPRX2 activation, mast cells release histamine, tryptase, chymase, chemokines and cytokines, which can cause itchy hives, angioedema, type 2 inflammation (through engagement of the adaptive immune system) and chronic pruritus and pain. Escient’s preclinical data demonstrates that, by blocking activation of MRGPRX2, EP262 has the potential to effectively treat a broad range of mast cell-mediated diseases, with an initial focus on chronic urticarias and atopic dermatitis.

About Chronic Urticaria

Chronic urticaria, defined as urticaria persisting for more than 6 weeks, manifests with very itchy hives that may vary in size and can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life by interfering with sleep and daily activities. Some patients with chronic urticaria may also develop swelling deeper under the skin or in other tissues (angioedema). There are two main forms of chronic urticaria. In chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU), hives occur spontaneously, without known triggers. In chronic inducible urticaria (CIndU), hives are induced by specific triggers such as cold exposure (cold urticaria) or touch (symptomatic dermographism), among others.

About Escient Pharmaceuticals

Escient Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage company focused on developing novel therapeutics to address a broad range of neurosensory-inflammatory disorders. The company’s pipeline includes two first-in-class small molecule antagonists targeting MRGPRX2 for the treatment of various mast cell mediated disorders and MRGPRX4 for cholestatic pruritus. Based in San Diego, California, Escient is led by an experienced management and scientific team and funded by top-tier life science investors.

Visit to learn more.


Aaron Mishel
Chief Financial Officer
Escient Pharmaceuticals, Inc.