They used CDDO-Im to turn on Nrf2, according to details in PNAS.

Investigators at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health report that activation of Nrf2 (nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-related factor 2) can prevent emphysema in mice exposed to cigarette smoke.

Nrf2 turns on numerous antioxidant and pollutant-detoxifying genes to protect the lungs from environmental pollutants. The team previously identified that disruption of Nrf2 expression in mice caused early onset and severe emphysema. More recently, they demonstrated a correlation between Nrf2 decline and progression of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in humans.

In the current study, the scientists fed mice a diet containing CDDO-Im, a compound known to activate Nrf2. CDDO-Im is closely related to CDDO-Me, an experimental cancer drug approved for Phase II trials.

They found that those mice were significantly less likely to have oxidative stress and lung-cell damage associated with emphysema. The researchers also noted substantial improvement in the portion of the heart responsible for circulating oxygenated blood through the body, a function that is typically diminished with emphysema.

“Nrf2 is an important regulator of the body’s antioxidant defense system, and activation of Nrf2 is a promising therapeutic strategy for attenuating COPD progression in patients,” remarks Thomas Sussan, Ph.D., lead author of the study.

The study is published in the online early edition of Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.

Previous articleForest Buys CNS Disease-Related Drug for $75M Upfront
Next articlePiramal to Acquire Minrad in an Agreement Worth $40M