Boston University has granted Ivax Corp.'s wholly ownedsubsidiary, Baker Norton Pharmaceuticals Inc., a worldwidelicense to use opiate antagonists, such as the alkaloidnalmefene, to treat involuntary movement disorders, includingtardive dyskinesia and Huntington's disease.
Characterized by involuntary movements, tardive dyskinesiamay be caused by long-term use of anti-psychotic orneuroleptic drugs, such as haloperidol. Huntington's disease is agenetic disorder marked by involuntary movements. In a pilotclinical trial in Huntington's patients by investigators at theBoston University Medical Center, opiate antagonists have beenshown to decrease some of these involuntary movements.
Baker Norton is developing a five-ringed alkaloid with amorphine-like structure, nalmefene, for a number ofindications thought to involve endorphins, the body's naturalpainkillers. The drug is believed to work by displacingendorphin by binding to its receptor. One development goal isan orally administered drug for interstitial cystitis. The therapywould treat the pain associated with this condition and perhapsblock the underlying mechanism, which may involve thedegranulation of mast cells by endorphins and stimulation ofhistimine leading to inflammation and frequent, painfulurination.
Another target is treatment of central nervous systemdisorders with an injectable drug. The injury spurs release ofendorphins, which may lead to release of destructive oxygenradicals, said Elliot Hahn, vice president of scientific affairs forIvax (ASE:IVX).
He added that the Miami company intends to initiate Phase IIstudies of nalmefene in combination with neuroleptics intardive dyskinesia. Neuroleptic drugs are commonly used inolder patients, including those suffering from Alzheimer'sdisease, to control behavior.
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