The French company Quantum Genomics is developing a first-in-class drug that targets proteins in the brain to lower blood pressure.
A Phase IIb trial, run by Quantum Genomics, found that eight weeks of taking its drug significantly lowered blood pressure in patients who were overweight or obese and with high blood pressure.
This reduction also applied to patients that tend to respond less well to approved therapies, such as those who are obese and from specific ethnic groups. This could mean hope for the 10-15% of patients whose condition is not controllable with approved drugs.
By lowering blood pressure, the drug could cut the risk of life-threatening cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.
The drug also showed a good safety profile in the 256 enrolled patients.
With these encouraging results in hand, the drug is clear to go to Phase III trials, but Quantum Genomics has not specified when.
Many currently approved drugs have targets in the renin-angiotensin system, a hormonal network that the body uses to keep blood pressure stable. For example, some target the production or binding of angiotensin II, a hormone that makes blood vessels constrict.
Unlike approved drugs, Quantum’s first-in-class small molecule drug targets the hormone angiotensin III, which acts in the brain to increase blood pressure and induce the fight and flight response. Quantum’s drug lowers blood pressure by inhibiting an enzyme that produces angiotensin III in the brain.
In patients with heart failure, excessive activation of the fight and flight response puts stress on the heart. For this reason, the company states that its single drug treatment could protect the heart in these patients. Next year, the company hopes to carry out a Phase IIb study in patients with heart failure, with results expected in 2020.
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