Artificial enzyme tested for medical use in humans

from the early-nanomedicine dept.
MetaPhore Pharmaceuticals, based in St. Louis, Mo., announced on 12 July 2001 that it has completed initial human clinical studies of an artificial enzyme-mimic molecule that scavenges free radicals inside cells. MetaPhore says it is only the first candidate from its proprietary family of free-radical fighting enzyme mimetics.

The initial clinical trials showed the drug to be safe and well tolerated, according to the company press release. The studies are also significant because they represent the first time that a small molecule drug developed to mimic an enzymeís activity has been tested in humans, based on published reports. MetaPhore says its enzyme mimetics work by replicating the catalytic activity of the natural enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD), the bodyís natural defense against free radical damage to tissues and cells. The natural regulation of superoxide free radicals by SOD, however, is unbalanced in certain disease states, including cancer, when the bodyís immune system prompts an overproduction of superoxide and the natural SOD enzymes become overwhelmed.

The release also states that additional pre-clinical studies conducted by MetaPhore researchers and others indicate that SOD enzyme mimetics hold extensive potential for a wide array of diseases and conditions associated with free-radical damage, including pain and inflammation, stroke, heart attack as well as certain types of cancers. It is worth noting that some theories of aging mechanisms are associated with free-radical damage to tissue and cells.

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