The Muscular Dystrophy Association has awarded $1,549,725 to ReveraGen BioPharma, a Rockville, Md., biotechnology company, for development of a dissociative glucocorticoid to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
The goal is to develop a drug that provides the benefits of currently available glucocorticoids (such as prednisone and deflazacort), but that doesn't cause the negative side effects associated with these medications.
The award was made through MDA Venture Philanthropy (MVP), the drug development arm of MDA's translational research program, in partnership with the U.S. National Institutes of Health Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program.
ReveraGen BioPharma (formerly known as Validus BioPharma) has developed an experimental compound called VBP15, which may offer people with DMD the beneficial effects of prednisone and related drugs without the side effects.
The unwanted side effects, ReveraGen scientists have found, are largely due to the genomic mechanism of action in glucocorticoids. VBP15 does not appear to have this genomic mechanism of action, the scientists say, but it appears to retain the beneficial effects of glucocorticoids' nongenomic mechanisms, which are those that combat inflammation and stabilize cell membranes.
ReveraGen says mice with a DMD-like muscle disease benefited from treatment with this drug, showing improved muscle function, increased activity and reduced muscle inflammation.
To learn more, read MDA Funds Development of Gentler Glucocorticoid for DMD.