Amira Pharmaceuticals Can Breathe Easier After Mouse Study

6/30/09

The people at San Diego’s Amira Pharmaceuticals are certainly breathing easier today. The respiratory drug development company is reporting that an experimental drug for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis reduced lung scarring in mice, bringing Amira closer to its goal of beginning human tests of the oral medication during the first half of next year.

In results presented this afternoon, Amira says that mice receiving the drug AP2966 for 14 days experienced a 40 percent to 60 percent reduction in fibrosis and inflammation. The findings were presented at an American Societies for Experimental Biology conference in Carefree, AZ.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is an incurable disease in which scar tissue builds up in the lung, making it difficult to breathe. It kills about 40,000 people in the U.S. each year. Amira’s drug targets a receptor called LPA1 that plays a role in inflammation and wound healing. It is believed that this receptor is up-regulated in people with pulmonary fibrosis.

“This is a very big announcement for us,” CEO Bob Baltera told me by phone. Amira was founded in 2005 by a dream team of scientists from Merck who specialized in developing drugs for asthma and inflammation. The company is developing drugs for respiratory and cardiovascular disease with pharmaceutical giant GlaxcoSmithKline, but plans to develop AP2966 on its own.

Denise Gellene is a former Los Angeles Times science writer and regular contributor to Xconomy. You can reach her at dgellene@xconomy.com Follow @

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