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Apr 21, 2016
 |  BC Innovations  |  Product R&D

A1M for preeclampsia

How A1M Pharma is going upstream in preeclampsia

A poor understanding of disease biology and a challenging development pathway have kept most drug developers away from the serious pregnancy complication preeclampsia, but A1M Pharma AB has a new approach with a first-in-class therapy that intervenes in the disease process upstream of the dangerous symptoms. Using a recombinant form of A1M - a scavenger of heme and reactive oxygen species (ROS) - the company believes it can protect against tissue damage and provide a treatment that avoids preterm delivery.

Last month, the company announced its first therapeutic candidate, RMC-035, a recombinant form of A1M based on research from Lund University that showed the protein is up-regulated in the placenta in response to preeclampsia-induced oxidative stress

"The largest challenge for therapeutics in preeclampsia is the fact that we still poorly understand the mechanisms of disease," said Matthew Cooper. "Because there's no consensus on what the cause of preeclampsia is, it is difficult to identify which pathways you should target to treat the causal elements of the disease rather than their consequences."

Cooper was CEO and founder of preeclampsia diagnostic company Carmenta Bioscience Inc., which was acquired by Progenity Inc. last year. He is now CSO at Progenity.

Cooper added that conducting drug trials for the disease is difficult because it is a maternal-fetal syndrome, which means two lives are at risk instead of one. "A lot of larger pharmas will not go near a trial like that, but once someone does move the needle and proves efficacy for preeclampsia, it will be a huge win not only for mothers but also for biopharma in general," he said.

While the etiology is not fully understood, researchers and clinicians agree that preeclampsia stems from abnormal formation of the placenta and its vasculature. The condition affects about 5% of pregnancies and leads to maternal hypertension, renal damage and seizures.

Specifically, the abnormal placenta and blood vessels impair the flow of blood and nutrients from the mother to the fetus, which leads to the rise in maternal blood pressure. The high blood pressure then contributes to oxidative stress, which further damages vessels and tissues and results in kidney malfunction and other symptoms.

The only effective treatment is delivery of...

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