JHU work boosts applications for lead drugs currently in Phase II trials for pain.
TorreyPines Therapeutics gained an exclusive license from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) to intellectual property covering the use of glutamate receptor antagonists for the prevention and treatment of stroke, heart attack, and other conditions associated with increased platelet aggregation.
The company already has two such compounds, tezampanel and NGX426, under Phase II development for the treatment of acute migraine and chronic pain.
The IP is based on research conducted in the JHU laboratories of Craig Morrell, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Charles Lowenstein, M.D., that demonstrates the importance of glutamate release in promoting platelet activation and thrombosis. The research also identifies AMPA receptors on platelets as a new antithrombotic target.
Platelets treated with an AMPA receptor antagonist are more resistant to agonist-induced aggregation than untreated platelets, according to research recently published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine. The studies also show that mice treated with an AMPA receptor antagonist have a prolonged time to clot formation and blood vessel occlusion compared with control mice.
“This is breakthrough research that further illustrates the importance of glutamate receptors as a new target for a wide range of indications,” according to Neil Kurtz, M.D., president and CEO of TorreyPines Therapeutics. “Additionally, the findings underscore the versatility and commercial prospects for our lead AMPA/kainate receptor antagonists, tezampanel and NGX426.”
While normal glutamate production is essential, excess glutamate production, either through injury or disease, can have a range of pathological effects. By acting at both the AMPA and kainate receptor site to competitively block the binding of glutamate, both tezampanel and its oral prodrug, NGX426, have the potential to treat a number of diseases and disorders, according to the company.