Studies suggest these entirely novel drugs (MFAIDs) are able to interfere with a common factor driving the inflammatory process in many diseases - from arthritis to inflammation of the bowel, central nervous system, cardiovascular system, skin, and respiratory tract.
On September 6, Hebrew University of Jerusalem reported that a synthetic anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic family of drugs able to combat a variety of illnesses while avoiding detrimental side effects has been developed by Saul Yedgar, PhD - an internationally recognized biochemist specialized in the study of cardiovascular and inflammatory conditions and director of a lab at the University's Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada.
Problems with Steroids & NSAIDS
Treatments for various inflammatory/allergic diseases, which affect billions of people worldwide, are a major focus of the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Yedgar explains. The most common drugs currently used to treat these numerous diseases are steroids, which are potent but also associated with severe side effects. These include:
• Metabolic changes (weight gain, increased blood pressure, diabetes),
• Organ-specific effects (glaucoma, cataracts, bone fragility),
• And even psychotrophic side effects (depression, psychosis).
For decades, alternatives, such as biological NSAIDs (non-steroidal alternative anti-inflammatory drugs), have been the focus of the pharmaceutical industry. The resulting drugs have been commercially successful, but have not produced genuine alternatives to steroids due to their limitations.
• Synthetic NSAIDs are less potent and have their own serious side effects, including cardiovascular disorders, stomach bleeding and respiratory disorders.
• The biological drugs are costly, must be injected, and have rare but very severe side effects.
Inflammatory Diseases Share Biochemical Mechanisms
Inflammatory/allergic diseases present different symptoms affecting different organs, such as:
• Skin inflammations (dermatitis, psoriasis);
• Airway injury and allergy (asthma, cystic fibrosis, allergic rhinitis);
• Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis;
• Intestinal inflammation (ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease);
• Central nervous system inflammation (multiple sclerosis),
• As well as atherosclerosis and cancer metastasis.
What these diseases have in common is that all of them share biochemical mechanisms, Dr. Yedgar says. A key one among them is the action of an enzyme family (phospholipase A2, aka PLA2) that initiates the production of a cascade of pro-inflammatory mediators involved in the induction and propagation of the diverse inflammatory diseases.
New ‘MFAIDs’ Control Inflammation-Inducing Enzyme Production
In Dr. Yedgar's lab, he and his associates have designed and constructed an entirely novel synthetic generation of drugs that control the PLA activity and the subsequent cascade of pro-inflammatory mediators, thereby providing 'multi-functional' anti-inflammatory drugs.
The new multi-functional anti-inflammatory drugs (MFAIDs) have so far efficiently treated diverse inflammatory conditions affecting the bowel, respiratory tract, eye and central nervous system, the researchers note.
Animal studies: MFAIDs have reportedly shown "excellent safety" and were found "efficient in treating diverse inflammatory/allergic conditions in animal models," using different modes of administration – oral, rectal, intravenous, inhaled and injected. These conditions included:
• Sepsis (systemic inflammatory response to pathogens),
• Inflammatory bowel diseases,
• And central nervous system inflammation (myelopathy refers to inflammation of the spinal cord and encephalopathy to inflammation of the brain).
Clinical studies: In particular, in two clinical studies MFAIDs have reportedly been shown to be safe and efficient in treating:
• Contact dermatitis, when incorporated into skin cream,
• And allergic rhinitis, when administered as a nasal spray.
Pharma's First Targets: Respiratory, Skin, Eye, Gut
The platform technology for MFAIDs drugs has been exclusively licensed from the Hebrew University through its Yissum Technology Transfer Company to Morria Biopharmaceuticals PLC (a British company), which is currently developing these drugs to treat inflammatory diseases of:
• The airways (hay-fever, cystic fibrosis),
• The skin (eczema),
• The eye (conjunctivitis)
• And the gut (colitis, Crohn's disease).
This groundbreaking work earned Dr. Yedgar one of the university's 2012 Kaye Innovation Awards. Established in 1994 by Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, the award is intended to encourage development of innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential that will benefit the university and society.
Source: Based on Hebrew University of Jerusalem news release, Sep 6, 2012