Three independent studies assessed the potential efficacy of the company’s lead ROCK2 compound in animal models of lung, kidney and liver fibrosis.
The lab tests showed the Redx drug candidate was able to suppress collagen deposition and pathways associated with fibrosis, meaning it could have an impact on established forms of the disease.
Its profile suggests the putative treatment is suitable to be taken by mouth, rather than injected directly into the blood system.
Central role in fibrotic disease
ROCK2, or rho-associated coiled-coil containing protein kinase 2, is a protein that in humans regulates functions such as cell division and smooth muscle contraction.
It also plays a central role in metabolic and fibrotic disease, explained Dr Richard Armer, chief scientific officer of Redx.
“Generating highly selective ROCK2 inhibitors, without the significantly limiting hypotension observed with systemic use of existing non-selective ROCK1/2 inhibitors, has been a key research challenge,” he added.
“We are very encouraged to generate a highly selective ROCK2 inhibitor series where the lead compound has demonstrated anti-fibrotic effects pre-clinically in a broad range of organ models without any observed toxicity."
First-in-man studies of the ROCK2 technology will take place next year, focusing on people with NASH, or non-alcoholic liver disease.
“Liver fibrosis associated with NASH remains a condition with a clear unmet medical need and we hope that Redx's research into ROCK2 inhibition progresses into the clinic, potentially producing further data which could lead to a new treatment option for liver fibrosis patients," said CEO Anson.
The company’s most advanced and clinical-stage drug is a porcupine inhibitor. A phase I/II trial in people with solid tumours will re-start sometime in the first half.