Researchers aim to elucidate the role of galectin-3 in cardiac fibrosis.

Galectin Therapeutics entered into a research collaboration with Jose Jalife, M.D., of the University of Michigan Medical School, to better understand the relationship of galectin-3 to cardiac fibrosis in chronic cardiac arrhythmias. Galectin-3 is known to be increased in patients with heart failure and is believed to be a critical mediator in the development of cardiac fibrosis.

“Galectin proteins appear to be pivotal in the development of fibrotic conditions,” notes Peter G. Traber, M.D., president and CEO, Galectin. “This relationship is the basis of our drug development program in therapies for liver fibrosis. This research collaboration with the University of Michigan will enable us to explore the potential of our existing compounds and pool the extensive knowledge of Dr. Jalife and his colleagues.”

Dr. Jalife’s research group is investigating the molecular mechanisms and nonlinear dynamics of heart rhythm and conduction disturbances, particularly in regards to the arrhythmogenic consequences of structural remodeling and electrophysiological remodeling induced by cardiovascular diseases.

Galectin-inhibitor development efforts by the company are focused on two disease areas: fibrosis and cancer. The former program includes later-stage cirrhosis and has four preclinical-stage candidates.

In cancer, Galectin has a Phase I immunotherapy and a chemotherapy for colorectal cancer, which has been submitted to some regulatory agencies and is in Phase II in the U.S. The company is currently awaiting review of its application for marketing approval in Colombia for the use of GM-CT-01 (formerly known as Davanat ®) in combination with 5-FU for metastatic colorectal cancer. GM-CT-01 will be commercialized in Colombia by partner Pro-Caps.

In the immunotherapy program, experiments by The Ludwig Institute of Cancer Research in Brussels indicated that GM-CT-01 reactivates T-cell-dependent tumor-cell killing that had been turned off by galectins secreted by cancer cells. The Ludwig Institute is planning to initiate a Phase I/II trial of GM-CT-01 for patients with advanced metastatic melanoma. Patients will receive a tumor-specific peptide vaccination combined with multiple systemic and intratumor doses of GM-CT-01 following the second month and subsequent month’s vaccine administration.

Candidates are generated on Galectin’s carbohydrate chemistry drug discovery platform. Naturally occurring carbohydrate polymers with galactose residues are used to create complex carbohydrates with specific molecular weights that are useful as therapeutics.

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