New Family of Drugs Without Side Effects
A synthetic, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic family of drugs to combat a variety of illnesses while avoiding harmful side effects has been developed by Hebrew University Medical Faculty heart researcher Prof. Saul Yedgar of the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada.
Inflammatory and allergic diseases affect billions of people around the world, and treatments for them are a major focus of the pharmaceutical industry.
The most common drugs currently used to treat these numerous diseases are steroids, which are potent but associated with severe side effects. These include metabolic changes (weight gain, increased blood pressure and type II diabetes), organ-specific effects (glaucoma, cataracts and thin bones) and even psychotrophic side effects (depression and psychosis).
For decades, alternatives, such as biological non-steroidal alternative anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have been the focus of the drug 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 and must be injected; they also have rare but very severe side effects.
Inflammatory/allergic diseases present different symptoms affecting different organs, such as skin inflammations (dermatitis and psoriasis); airway injury and allergy (asthma, cystic fibrosis and allergic rhinitis); 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 they have in common is that all of them share biochemical mechanisms, such as the action of an enzyme family (PLA2) that initiates the production of a cascade of pro-inflammatory mediators involved in the induction and propagation of the diverse inflammatory diseases. Yedgar and his lab associates have designed and constructed an entirely novel synthetic generation of drugs that control the PLA2 activity and the subsequent cascade of pro-inflammatory mediators, thereby providing multi-functional anti-inflammatory drugs (MFAIDs).
These have been shown to be very safe and efficient in treating diverse inflammatory/allergic conditions in animal models, using different methods of administration - oral, rectal, intravenous, inhaled and injected.
These conditions included sepsis, inflammatory bowel diseases, asthma and central nervous system inflammation.
Two MFAIDs have excelled in clinical studies treating contact dermatitis when incorporated into skin cream and allergic rhinitis when administered as a nasal spray.
The technology has been exclusively licensed from HU through its Yissum technology transfer company to the UK’s Morria Biopharmaceuticals, 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 and Crohn’s disease).