Decorin, a human proteoglycan that is a natural inhibitor ofTGF-beta, seems to be capable of preventing the progression ofkidney disease.

Researchers from the University of Utah, the La Jolla CancerResearch Foundation and Telios Pharmaceuticals Inc.(NASDAQ:TLIO) of San Diego reported last week in Nature thatdecorin prevents scarring in kidney disease in animals.Scarring is the leading cause of kidney failure in humans.

Decorin is normally found in cartilage, skin and otherextracellular matrices. Telios' compound is a recombinantversion produced in Chinese hamster ovary cells, Teliosresearcher John Harper told BioWorld. Telios has acquired allpatent rights covering its use in treating fibrotic diseases.

"We found that if we administered decorin intravenously torats with experimental kidney inflammation(glomerulonephritis), we can prevent formation of excess scartissue in the kidney," Harper said. The researchers assesseddecorin's effects histologically as well as by testing for specificmolecules such as the EDA form of fibronectin known to bedeposited in scar tissue.

Several years ago, University of Utah researcher Wayne Broder(one of the collaborators in the present study) and hiscolleagues found that "antibodies to TGF-beta can reduce theproduction of extracellular matrix in animals." But becauseantibodies may produce allergic reactions in humans, "we havebeen searching for a safe way to block or reduce the action ofTGF-beta in the human body," he said.

Allowing for the successful completion of further animal tests,decorin could be in human clinical trials for kidney disease andpossibly other disorders caused by scarring by "the mid-1990s," said Robert Erickson, Telios' president and chiefexecutive officer. -- Jennifer Van Brunt

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.