Using the body´s own repair system to heal damaged tissue and restore vital functions
The body’s own defences and advanced repair system are superior to any pharmaceutical drugs available today. Yet, taking full advantage of the amazing natural systems is still relatively rare in medicine. The Gothenburg-based drug development company Vicore Pharma has identified and developed a new drug candidate that enhances and stimulates the body’s ability to repair damaged tissue anywhere in the body.
The discovery that Vicore Pharma has based their development on is not new per se, as it builds on a general concept of how the body works and how it can repair itself. “From a clinical perspective, I have seen over 30 years of development in this area, but never before an approach at this angle that we are looking at now here at Vicore Pharma”, says Associate Professor Ulrike Steckelings of University of Southern Denmark, Odense.
A very special discovery
Angiotensin AT2 receptors, are a set of molecules that occur naturally everywhere in the body.
The AT2 receptor is abundant in high density in the foetus, where it supports organ development and differentiation. It is also present in normal adult tissue, although in much lower density than in the foetus, but gets expressed in much higher amounts again if adult tissue is injured. In damaged tissue it supports the body’s natural repairing system. For example, the receptor helps to attenuate inflammation or to improve scar formation, which results in improved heart function after myocardial infarction or reduced neurological deficits after stroke. These are only a few of the many benefits.
“If we can take advantage of the receptor’s functionality and incorporate the benefits of it into successful pharmaceutical drugs, we will be able to offer enhanced treatment for a number of chronic disease situations”, exclaims Vicore Pharma Managing Director Per Jansson.
So what is it that makes this discovery so special? Vicore Pharma’s prime product candidate, C21 is a small molecule that activates the AT2 receptor, a so called AT2 receptor agonist. It shows excellent oral bioavailability, specificity and solubility. This way of making the regenerative AT2 receptor a drug target is a revolutionary way of taking advantage of the body’s own fantastic and advanced systems. So far, there have been very few side effects identified in conjunction with the new candidate.
In need of a partner
Vicore Pharma is actively looking for a partner to commercialise the future product. In 2008, the company started to collect input from a large number of Key Opinion Leaders, forming a strong foundation for the drug target and the candidate.
“The Key Opinion Leaders help us form a complete view of how the candidate works in real life, and where it can be applied. We know now that the AT2 receptor agonists are effective all over the body; amazingly boosting the repair system in order to restore functionality of injured or disease organs such as heart, nervous system, kidney or skin. There are no similar candidates available that we know of”, Ulrike Steckelings continues.
Working with prominent researchers from all over the world has been crucial for the success of Vicore Pharma’s development. Ulrike Steckelings’ research forms the foundation on which further development is now taking place, also incorporating important input and knowledge from Professor Thomas Unger, Maastricht University and Associate Professor Björn Dahlöf and fellow clinicians at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg.
“We are just entering the clinical phase and are looking forward to discover just how far we can go with our discovery”, says Per Jansson in conclusion.