Partners UCB and Amgen are teaming up with NASA to carry out a preclinical in vivo study evaluating the effects of a sclerostin antibody on bone loss, a significant problem associated with space flight, during the final Atlantis space shuttle mission that is due to launch on July 8. Half of the 30 mice joining Atlantis will receive the sclerostin antibody, and the other half placebo. On return the animals will be tested for various aspects of bone structure, composition, strength, and cell and molecular parameters.
“The origin of UCB’s sclerostin program was the discovery of the genetic cause of a rare inherited high bone mass condition,” explains Iris Loew-Friedrich, M.D., CMO and executive vp of global projects and development at UCB. “This fascinating approach of turning genetic discovery into novel and innovative drug development seems fitting to the collaboration with NASA whose mission is exploration and discovery.”
The firms recently reported positive data from a Phase II study evaluating a different sclerostin antibody candidate, AMG 785/CDP7851, in 400 women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. The trial met its primary endpoint, with the finding that in comparison with women receiving placebo, those treated using AMG 785/CDP7851 demonstrated significant increases in lumbar spine bone mineral density at 12 months. The antibody therapy also compared positively with the two active comparators, teriparatide and alendronate.
The antibody is designed to inhibit the activity of sclerostin, a protein that represents a key negative regulator of bone formation, bone mass, and bone strength, UCB and Amgen state. The firms maintain the space flight study may also provide new insights into potential uses of the antibody for the prevention and treatment of skeletal fragility resulting from skeletal disuse conditions such as immobilization, stroke, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injury, and reduced physical activity.
“This proof of principle study will enhance our understanding of the science behind the sclerostin antibody and arm us with important research to support potential future therapeutic applications in both astronauts and patients suffering from bone loss,” remarks Chris Paszty, Ph.D., scientific executive director at Amgen.