RPI-78M is an experimental therapy under development by Nutra Pharma to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). It is derived from an extract of cobra venom and is an antagonist of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors are found in the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous systems, and skeletal muscles.
RPI-78M contains anticholinergic peptides that recognize the same receptors as nicotine but have the opposite effect. Studies have demonstrated that native and modified neurotoxins can protect nerve cells from early cell death.
The drug may be beneficial for patients with neuromuscular disorders that include multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, muscular dystrophy, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis when activity of these receptors has been compromised.
Earlier investigations of the RPI-78M in humans and animals did not show serious side effects and revealed RPI-78M to be a very stable molecule (over four years at room temperature), which is considered unusual for a biological drug. It can be given by mouth, which eliminates the need for injections. Additionally, the therapy responds to a large range of doses and with low toxicity, eliminating risk of overdose.
RPI-78M was granted Orphan Drug Designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat pediatric multiple sclerosis. Orphan drug status is granted to therapies that may not be lucrative to pharmaceutical companies, but are highly beneficial for people with rare diseases.
In September, Nutra Pharma announced a partnership with Omnia Biologics to speed up manufacture of RPI-78M for upcoming clinical trials. Omnia Biologics will clone and produce alpha-cobratoxin to produce the therapy.
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