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Diffusion Pharmaceuticals Announces Initiation of a Phase I/II Clinical Trial in Patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)

September is National Vascular Disease Awareness Month

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Sept. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Diffusion Pharmaceuticals LLC, a clinical-stage drug-development company commercializing new drugs for the treatment of unmet medical needs, announced today that it has begun to enroll patients in a Phase I/II clinical trial of its lead drug candidate trans sodium crocetinate (TSC). The trial, designated NCT00725881 on the Website, is investigating TSC as a treatment for peripheral arterial disease (PAD) patients who experience the severe leg pain known as intermittent claudication. According to the PAD Coalition, approximately 8 million Americans suffer from the disease. Results from the trial are expected to be announced in early 2010.

This double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial will randomize up to 48 patients at five research sites in the U.S. Primary clinical endpoints of the study are peak walking time and claudication onset time, as demonstrated by exercise treadmill tests. Both endpoints are well-accepted by the medical community and regulatory authorities as reliable indicators of efficacy in intermittent claudication clinical trials. Safety and pharmacokinetic assessments are also being conducted during the trial.

"In addition to advancing a much-needed treatment for peripheral arterial disease patients, this Phase I/II study will also help demonstrate TSC's potential to treat other diseases related to cellular oxygen deprivation," says David G. Kalergis, JD/MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Diffusion Pharmaceuticals. "Such proof-of-concept in humans is a critical step in the advancement of our novel pharmaceutical and will support our plans to apply it to treatments for a broad range of unmet medical needs affecting millions of patients annually."

TSC is the company's lead candidate in a family of first-in-class compounds, representing a new approach to the treatment of conditions characterized by oxygen deprivation (hypoxia) at the cellular level. Using a novel mechanism of action, TSC enhances the diffusion of oxygen through blood plasma, increasing the rate of oxygen transport and thus treating the symptoms of hypoxia at their source.

In 2007, the Company successfully completed a Phase I safety study of TSC. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-escalation study in 40 subjects evaluated the tolerability and pharmacokinetics of an intravenous bolus injection of TSC in healthy human subjects. The study demonstrated that TSC is well tolerated, and raised no significant clinical safety issues in humans at doses higher than the doses being used in ongoing clinical trials.

About Multi-Center Trial in Peripheral Arterial Disease Patients:

This randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial will consist of four cohorts of 12 patients each, to be enrolled sequentially over an escalating range of TSC dosages. Subjects in the study will receive injections of either TSC or placebo intravenously once daily for five consecutive days. Safety and tolerability will be evaluated in a safety review of each cohort before any patients are enrolled into the next cohort. Patients will be evaluated during the study for safety parameters and for clinical endpoints using a treadmill test at prescribed time points. Follow-up assessments will occur at 5, 14 and 30 days after the last dose. The objectives of the study are to evaluate the safety and pharmacokinetics of multiple doses of TSC; establish a dose-response relationship and effect of TSC on peak walking time and claudication onset time in intermittent claudication patients; determine the effect of TSC on potential hypoxia biomarkers; and evaluate the impact of TSC on quality-of-life parameters using the assessments measured in the Walking Impairment Questionnaire routinely used in PAD research. More information on this trial, designated NCT00725881, can be found on the Website.

About Peripheral Arterial Disease and Intermittent Claudication:

According to information from the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and the PAD Coalition, approximately 8 million patients in the U.S. suffer from PAD and an estimated 787,500 of them experience intermittent claudication. Cardiovascular disease related to atherosclerosis is a major contributing factor to morbidity and mortality worldwide. PAD is a manifestation of systemic atherosclerosis in which arterial blockages lead to decreased leg blood flow. During exercise or walking this decreased blood flow and the corresponding decrease in available oxygen frequently lead to pain and walking impairment referred to as intermittent claudication. Development of TSC as a treatment for PAD is premised on enhancing the diffusion of oxygen through blood plasma to alleviate the claudication pain caused by hypoxia in the tissues of the legs.

Additional Clinical Trials with Trans Sodium Crocetinate (TSC):

Also in 2008, Diffusion Pharmaceuticals will initiate a proof-of-concept Phase I study evaluating the effect of TSC on the oxygen levels of brain tumors in patients with high-grade glioma. Published preclinical work indicates that TSC significantly enhances the tumor killing power of radiation therapy in a rat brain cancer model. The key element causing increased susceptibility of the tumor cells to radiation therapy is believed to be TSC's capability to increase the oxygen levels of the hypoxic portions of cancerous tumors. Intra-tumoral oxygen concentration levels, as determined by an oxygen-sensing probe implanted into the tumors of brain cancer patients, will be collected in this trial, comparing baseline to post-TSC treatment at escalating doses. Biomarkers of tumor hypoxia will also be studied and patient safety and tolerability data will be collected and evaluated.

About Trans Sodium Crocetinate (TSC):

TSC is a proprietary small molecule which uses a novel diffusion-enhancement approach to treating tissue hypoxia. It has been shown in numerous animal models of hypoxia-related disease states to increase oxygen levels to hypoxic tissue, providing significant therapeutic benefit. By enhancing tissue oxygenation, TSC prevents or mitigates the underlying hypoxia, creating a new paradigm for the potential treatment of many hypoxia-related conditions.

About Diffusion Pharmaceuticals LLC:

Diffusion Pharmaceuticals LLC is a clinical-stage drug-development company commercializing a family of first-in-class drug candidates to treat serious or life-threatening medical conditions. These proprietary small molecules use a novel method of action to enhance oxygen diffusion to oxygen-deprived (hypoxic) tissue. Potential clinical applications include cancer, critical care uses such as trauma, hemorrhage, stroke, and heart attack, as well as chronic conditions such as peripheral arterial and vascular disease, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disorders. Enhanced diffusion of oxygen into hypoxic tissue has an important application in oncology by improving the efficacy of radiation therapy in cancerous tumors. A Phase I study for Diffusion's lead molecule, trans sodium crocetinate (TSC), in healthy subjects was successfully completed in 2007. The company recently commenced a Phase I/II dose-range-finding, safety and efficacy study of TSC in peripheral arterial disease patients suffering from intermittent claudication and is also developing proof-of-mechanism studies in cancer patients to support further trials using TSC in patients who are undergoing radiation therapy. Diffusion Pharmaceuticals, which is privately held, is located in Charlottesville, Virginia. For more information, visit

SOURCE Diffusion Pharmaceuticals LLC
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