LA JOLLA, Calif., July 24, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers from CalciMedica, Inc. and the University of Liverpool today announced the publication of a paper describing positive effects of calcium release-activated calcium (CRAC) channel inhibitors in animal models of acute pancreatitis. The paper, titled "Inhibitors of ORAI1 prevent cytosolic calcium-associated injury of human pancreatic acinar cells and acute pancreatitis in 3 mouse models" appears in the August edition of the journal Gastroenterology.
The paper shows that particular CRAC channel inhibitors interacting with the Orai1 protein, a key component of the CRAC channel found in pancreatic acinar cells, have strong activity on all measures of disease and pathology in three different and widely accepted animal models of acute pancreatitis. Of particular translational significance is the finding of protective effects of Orai1 inhibition on human pancreatic acinar cells exposed to different physiologically relevant pancreatic toxins. The two compounds studied, one from CalciMedica and the other from GSK, differ structurally but had similar activity in the animal models, and the CalciMedica compound, CM_128, is advancing toward clinical studies.
Dr. Robert Sutton, MD Professor of Surgery and Director of the NIHR Liverpool Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital and senior author of the paper, said "This work highlights an exciting approach to the treatment of acute pancreatitis, a serious disease with significant morbidity and mortality. Tens of thousands of people present at the Emergency Department every year with acute pancreatitis, and there is no disease-modifying therapy available."
Dr. Sutton continued, "While essentially everyone with acute pancreatitis is admitted to the hospital, the majority, thankfully, recover over the course of a week or two without major incident. Still, there are some who have a severe course, often with extensive stays in the hospital or intensive care unit, and there is little we can offer them except supportive care and surgical intervention if required."
"An agent that actually reduces the impact of the disease process would be a significant step forward in this field, and I am excited by these results. We are most grateful to the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the research charity CORE and to CalciMedica for supporting these studies," Dr. Sutton said.
Michael Dunn, Senior Vice President, Corp. Dev. at CalciMedica, said, "Dr. Sutton and his team, as well as the scientists at GSK, have been great collaborators. We are very encouraged by the results, and believe a CRAC channel inhibitor can successfully impact this disease, with substantial benefit to patients. We hope to translate these findings into the first effective therapeutic for acute pancreatitis, and plan to start clinical studies early next year."
About CRAC channels and Orai
CRAC channels, comprising Orai and regulatory STIM proteins, function to maintain proper levels of calcium in certain non-excitable cell types. In addition, since calcium is an important intracellular signaling molecule, CRAC channels play a role in signaling pathways that are particularly important in immune cell and secretory cell function. Aberrant activation of CRAC channels is thought to play a key role in the pathobiology of acute pancreatitis.
About CalciMedica, Inc.
CalciMedica is the leading biopharmaceutical company focused on CRAC channels and the discovery and development of novel drugs for the treatment of acute or chronic diseases that are affected by these channels. For example, the calcium entry pathway controlled by CRAC channels is essential for the adaptive immune response, and has been clinically validated as an important drug target in humans through the use of calcineurin inhibitors that act downstream from CRAC channels. For more information, please visit the company website at www.calcimedica.com.
About the University of Liverpool
The University of Liverpool is one of the UK's leading research institutions with an annual turnover of £435 million, including £114 million for research. Liverpool is ranked in the top 1% of higher education institutions worldwide and is a member of the Russell Group. Visit www.liv.ac.uk or follow us on twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/livuninews
About the Medical Research Council
The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers' money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms. www.mrc.ac.uk
About the National Institute for Health Research
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government's strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centers of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).
About the NIHR Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit
The National Institute for Health Research Liverpool Pancreas Biomedical Research Unit (NIHR Pancreas BRU) is based at the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust. It is a leading global translational research unit dedicated to advancing the management of pancreatic digestive diseases, such as acute and chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. The NIHR Pancreas BRU is the premier center in the UK for pancreatic translational research and one of the top three centers in Europe.
The NIHR Pancreas BRU is built around the world-class excellence of pancreatic research in Liverpool supported by many funders including the MRC and NIHR, and has a range of collaborations with other leading European research institutions. The NIHR Pancreas BRU also works with companies to develop and validate a broad range of health care products including new diagnostics and therapeutics, and has initiated and maintains research forums to develop new mutually beneficial collaborations. For more information visit the NIHR Pancreas BRU website: http://www.pancreasbru.co.uk/
SOURCE CalciMedica, Inc.