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Kidney-disease drug with Dartmouth origins licensed in Asia
Date:1/14/2010

Thanks in part to more than a decade of preclinical work by Dartmouth researchers, a Japanese biopharmaceutical firm is preparing to develop and market throughout Asia a drug for the treatment of chronic kidney disease (CKD).

In a deal worth $272 million plus royalties, the firm Kyowa Hakko Kirin bought exclusive rights to the compound bardoxolone methylor CDDO-methyl ester (CDDO-Me), in the scientific literaturefrom Texas-based Reata Pharmaceuticals on Thursday, January 7.

The drug belongs to a family of anti-inflammatory compounds called triterpenoids, which chemist Tadashi Honda, Ph.D., began synthesizing at the Dartmouth laboratory of Gordon Gribble, Ph.D., in 1995. Since then, Dartmouth Medical School pharmacologist Michael B. Sporn, M.D., and his lab team have been testing them for bioactivity.

Sporn and members of his lab, including co-investigator Karen Liby, Ph.D., found in animal trials that synthetic triterpenoids simultaneously inhibit many kinds of tumor cells, suppress inflammation, and protect healthy, non-cancerous cells. While focusing on cancer prevention and treatment, the researchers found that the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and cyto-protective properties of triterpenoids also can apply to a wide range of inflammation-related diseases. These conditions include diseases of the kidney, the heart, the respiratory system, and the central-nervous system.

Triterpenoids "are not anti-oxidants themselves," explains Sporn, DMS's Oscar M. Cohn '34 Professor of Pharmacology and of Medicine. "They turn on the body's own anti-oxidant defenses, which is most important."

Following up on the Sporn lab's cancer research, collaborators at Cornell reported that in tests on rodents, one of the triterpenoids appears to help in preventing such neurodegenerative diseases as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Huntington's.

After securing patent protection for the CDDO-Me compounds, Dartmouth College's Technology
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Contact: David Corriveau
dms.communications@dartmouth.edu
603-650-0771
Dartmouth College
Source:Eurekalert

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