G-Zero Therapeutics received $3 million from NIAID to continue studies toward “Organismal Radioprotection through Pharmacological Quiescence.” This advanced technology phase 2 SBIR grant follows successful completion of a $600,000 phase 1 grant awarded in late 2009.
Bone marrow suppression is the primary cause of death in individuals inadvertently exposed to high doses of radiation. While a radioprotectants exist that will decrease toxicity when given before exposure to radiation, there are currently no effective therapies to mitigate bone marrow toxicity of radiation when given after radiation exposure, the firm points out.
G-Zero is actively progressing small molecule radiomitigants to provide protection of bone marrow and other organs including the kidney and lung from radiation exposure. These molecules transiently arrest the cell cycle of hematopoeitic progenitor and stem cells in the bone marrow. This transient arrest, termed pharmacological quiescence, or Pharmacoquiescence™ (PQ™), exploits that fact that when cells are arrested in Go/G1 of the cell cycle, cells are more resistant to DNA-damaging insults.
“This funding will continue to allow G-Zero's scientists to rapidly progress lead candidates through IND-enabling studies,” says Jay Strum, Ph.D., CSO. In rodents, G-Zero’s approach reportedly demonstrated marked efficacy even when administered up to 20 hours following radiation exposure.
PQ induced by orally available or intravenous-formulated small molecules may also be used as agents to address the problem of chemotherapy-induced anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia.