Atlanta-based Inhibikase Therapeutics is currently developing the novel formulation ikT-001Pro for treating progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), one of the major complications of multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment caused by the use of immunosuppressants and immunomodulators, which hamper the body’s ability to combat infectious pathogens.
The John Cunningham Virus (JCV) is the causative agent of PML and affects the white matter of the brain, destroying motor neurones and impairing cognitive ability.
Cases of PML have been reported largely when natalizumab has been used to treat relapsing and remitting forms of MS, either in monotherapy or in combination with Interferon beta–1a. Patients with an earlier JCV infection with viral antibodies still existing in body fluids have a reactivation of the virus during immunosuppression, which often causes PML.
How ikT-001Pro Works
The active ingredient of itK-001Pro is imatinib, a host-directed, first-generation BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase receptor inhibitor. The receptor is necessary for the viral cells to grow and replicate via a series of signal transduction pathways. This mechanism is blocked by itK-001Pro, which prevents replication of the virus.
The proprietary technology used by Inhibikase Therapeutics to deliver the active ingredient at its target site brings fewer side-effects and simultaneous suppression of viral replication in the host. ItK-001Pro would be considered a companion medication in cases of immunosuppressive drug therapies for autoimmune diseases, if proven successful in clinical trials.
Due to the rare occurrence of PML, the drug has been granted Orphan Drug status by the U.S. FDA. It has been shown to block viral replication successfully in preclinical models. The company is looking for partners to invest in its clinical development program, which would provide physicians with options to prescribe natalizumab to multiple sclerosis patients without a probability of JCV infection.
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