DURHAM, N.C., April 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Despite being known as "good" fat, excess unsaturated fatty acids may prove deadly for patients who develop, pancreatitis, COVID-19 and other acute illnesses. A new Mayo Clinic study led by Dr. Vijay Singh underscores the potential value of the lead therapeutic compound, RABI-767 in development by Lamassu Pharma, LLC, to treat acute pancreatitis.
RABI-767 is a novel small molecule lipase inhibitor licensed from the Mayo Foundation for medical education and research focused on filling a critical, unmet clinical need for treatment of acute pancreatitis. Researchers also aim to mitigate the toxicity and organ failure associated with the disease that causes lengthy hospitalizations and death, saving lives and preserving resources.
Acute pancreatitis is a leading cause of emergency department visits and more than 330,000 hospital admissions annually in the United States. Currently, no treatment exists to mitigate the life-threatening complications associated with the disease, which is on the rise worldwide.
The importance of Lamassu's research is underscored by a new Mayo Clinic study on the role of unsaturated fats in pancreatitis released in Science Advances earlier this year. The researchers in this study found that the rapid breakdown of unsaturated body fat stored in a patient's body can worsen the course of severe acute pancreatitis, increasing toxicity, organ failure, and the risk of death.
In healthy people, the body slowly breaks down saturated and unsaturated fats as needed to help supply energy, make hormones, promote cell-to-cell communication, or keep cells structurally healthy. In people who develop pancreatitis, however, fat stores in the body are attacked.
Unsaturated, or "oily," fat breaks down into fatty acids more rapidly than saturated, or "buttery," fat. This rapid breakdown and release of excess stored unsaturated fatty acids can interfere with normal health processes vital to survival. By nature, the unsaturated fats are more water stable at warm temperatures, so they accumulate and spread more freely through the body, potentially damaging individual cells and organ systems.
In addition to the Mayo Clinic research, Lamassu has completed preclinical studies on RABI-767 and the results have indicated that the therapeutic compound decreases the breakdown or release of both unsaturated and saturated fats during acute pancreatitis attacks.
Lamassu anticipates receiving approval to begin clinical trials within the next few months. Researchers are closely monitoring coronavirus variants to determine whether to fast-track development of a clinical trial tailored to the efficacy of its treatment specifically for those patients with COVID-19.
In patients who develop COVID-19, acute pancreatitis can be worsened by increased inflammation in the body. Multiple studies in 2020 and 2021 have indicated the pancreas as a target organ for SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—because the virus' receptors are expressed in pancreatic cells, specifically the acinar and islet cells, and research into this connection is ongoing at institutions worldwide, including Lamassu.
Lamassu's novel treatment—an injection direct to the pancreas—could potentially protect against this increased risk, mitigate symptoms, and help to prevent organ failure and other complications related to pancreatitis by slowing or minimizing the breakdown of unsaturated fat. If proven effective, the treatment could help save patient lives and reduce the need for costly extended care.
"We have accelerated the development by tailoring the business around the science - not the other way around. When we get approval, our drug RABI-767 will be the first and only drug to be delivered via intraperitoneal injection, to preserve the science and the mechanism of action that ensure drug efficacy," said Dr. Gabi Hanna, CEO of Lamassu Pharma. "Every day there are thousands of patients suffering and dying from this disease without any hope for sufficient therapy, and our goal is to navigate the regulation and approve the safety and efficacy of our drug in order to bring it to patients as soon as possible."
About Lamassu Pharma, LLC
Founded in 2018, Lamassu Pharma leverages innovative and insightful technology to drive collaboration between academia and industry through translational research. Our talented team of physicians, engineers and translational scientists applies its expertise to translate the knowledge of medical research products in Phase I/II clinical trials and partners with clinical and commercial development specialists to advance clinical trials through the approval pipeline. Our innovative model ensures that early development efforts bring products to definitive clinical testing as efficiently as possible to benefit patients, while safeguarding safety and investments. Learn more at lamassupharma.com.