An editorial in Saturday's issue of the journal Lancet predictsthe imminent arrival of new agents to fight the pain ofinflammatory diseases, based on findings with a compoundfrom a German drug company.

The optimism is based on the development of a compound thatwill block the action of short proteins called kinins.

Kinins are made by the body in many tissues and have potentproperties in common, most notably that they produce pain andinflammation. Bradykinin, the best-known kinnin, is implicatedin many diseases, including arthritis, pancreatitis, circulatoryshock, migraine, psoriasis and asthma.

The search for a bradykinin antagonist has been hindered by theshort life of such peptides in the body. The body naturallymakes and breaks down kinins rapidly; antagonists based onthe kinin structure have shared that fate, lasting less than 15minutes.

Based on reports this past year on the action of a compoundmade by Hoechst A.G. of Frankfurt, the editorial says that "theobjective of synthesizing potent, long-acting, bradykininantagonists has been achieved in 1991." The feat isaccomplished by including synthetic amino acids in the peptidethat are not found in nature.

The unnatural amino acids are not as easily attacked by thebody's enzymes. Bradykinin antagonists based on these aminoacids last for several hours and are nearing clinicalevaluation, the editorial said. Moreover, the editorial predicts,"the synthesis of an orally active compound seems realistic."

A Hoechst representative would not comment further on thedrug, citing a company policy with any agent underdevelopment.

Nova Pharmaceutical Corp. (NASDAQ:NOVX) of Baltimore hasalso been hunting for a long-lasting kinin blocker. The companyhas its kinin blocker NPC 567 in Phase I testing for asthma,but is still working on antagonists that will have "greaterpotency and greater metabolic stability," said Novaspokeswoman Kira Bacon.

Phase II trials of NPC 567 in patients with colds ended in1989, with the determination that the antagonist was noteffective.

Nova has agreements with SmithKline Beecham plc to developbradykinin antagonists as well as central nervous systemdrugs, but has an option to reacquire the rights to itsbradykinin antagonist technology.

-- Roberta Friedman, Ph.D. Special to BioWorld

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