The most advanced candidate is expected to enter a a mid-stage trial later this year.
Duska Therapeutics obtained a license from Duke University and Johns Hopkins University to advance a portfolio of investigational cardiovascular drugs developed at the universities. The most advanced compound is expected to enter a Phase II trial later this year.

All licensed candidates are designed to correct nitric oxide and redox disequilibrium in the failing heart and cardiovascular system, according to the company. They have a dual mechanism of action of inhibiting the creation of reactive oxygen radicals and concurrently providing nitric oxide in the failing heart.

The therapeutic target is the ryanodine receptor, the ion channel in the heart that provides the calcium necessary for the heart to beat. The investigational drugs are believed to improve calcium cycling in the heart by acting on the ryanodine receptor to improve the efficiency of heart contractility.

The drug portfolio was developed in part by Jonathan S. Stamler, M.D., George Barth Geller professor of research in cardiovascular diseases and professor of medicine and biochemistry at Duke University, and Joshua M. Hare, M.D., Louis Lemberg professor of medicine, chief of the division of cardiology, and director of the interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute at University of Miami. Dr. Hare was formerly associated with Johns Hopkins University.

“The licensing of these novel heart failure drugs greatly strengthens our pipeline by adding a Phase II candidate with blockbuster market potential,” remarks James S. Kuo, M.D., chairman and CEO of Duska. “Multiple sets of data obtained in preclinical and human studies suggest that our newly licensed heart failure drugs should be safe and beneficial.”

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