The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently granted two $450,000 Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants to Cureveda LLC, who is currently developing new therapies for the treatment of inflammatory and fibrotic diseases, such as scleroderma. The company will invest the grants in its ongoing preclinical studies that are going to evaluate its lead investigational product VEDA-1209 to treat systemic sclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The research project being conducted by Cureveda LLC is meant to assess the efficacy of the VEDA-1209 therapy, since the currently available therapeutics for both SSc and COPD only target symptoms and not the underlying disease processes. VEDA-1209 is expected to activate the master regulator of anti-oxidant pathways in the cell, called Nrf2, which would result in the blockage of fibrotic and inflammatory processes that trigger either systemic sclerosis or COPD.
“Systemic sclerosis and COPD are devastating diseases where there is a critical need for more effective treatments,” said the CEO of Cureveda, Graham Allaway, PhD. “These two STTR projects will help us advance VEDA-1209 as a powerful new therapeutic approach for these conditions.”
The Systemic Sclerosis STTR was awarded by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, which is part of the NIH, and the company will now begin their studies using the funding. Cureveda will be working in collaboration with John Varga and Jun Wei from Northwestern University, who are both experts in the study and investigation of systemic sclerosis and its treatment, and will now be in charge of evaluating VEDA-1209’s efficacy, not only in cells from patients, but also in animal models of this disease.
Cureveda is focused on developing a therapy for systemic sclerosis, as it is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects approximately 100,000 people in the United States alone, half of which suffer from aggressive forms of scleroderma, develop organ failure, and die within five years. The disease causes the overproduction of collagen, leading to fibrosis of the skin and connective tissues.
The COPD STTR grant was awarded through the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the trials will be conducted by a research team based at Johns Hopkins University. The investigations will study VEDA-1209 efficacy in vitro using cells taken from the lungs of COPD patients, and in vivo in an animal model of COPD, as the company expects to improve the lives of the approximately 13 million Americans living with the disease.
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