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Florida Tech Contracts Funding to Further Research into Treatment for Severe Asthma, Other Immune Disorders

02/11/2013

MELBOURNE, FLA.—MSBi Valorisation has become a co-investor with AmorChem in funding research by Florida Institute of Technology and McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. The investors are supporting the universities in developing 5-oxo-ETE Receptor Antagonists for the treatment of eosinophilic disorders, including severe asthma.

The project, previously solely financed by AmorChem, is based on the seminal work of chemist Joe Rokach, Ph.D., of Florida Tech and biologist William Powell, Ph.D., of McGill. The two scientists have furthered the understanding of 5-oxo-ETE, a novel metabolite in the arachidonic acid pathway, and its role in eosinophil recruitment to sites of inflammation.

“We are very proud of Dr. Rokach and his many scientific achievements. This funding ensures that he can continue this important work with his colleague Dr. Powell, which we hope will lead to a major immune system pharmaceutical breakthrough,” said Kinney.

Asthma and allergies are characterized by tissue infiltration of eosinophils, which contribute to inflammation, tissue damage, and remodeling. There is abundant evidence that lipids derived from the 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) pathway are important pro-inflammatory mediators in asthma and other allergic diseases. The most familiar products of the metabolism of arachidonic acid by the actions of 5 lipoxygenase (5-LO) are the cysteinyl leukotrienes (cysLTs), as they are potent mediators of contractile responses in the airways and antagonists of the cysLT1 receptor are marketed as therapies for asthma. Among the 5-LO products, 5-oxo-ETE (5-oxo-6,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid) is the most powerful known chemoattractant for human eosinophils in vitro and acts synergistically with peptide chemokines in inducing eosinophil migration. The work proposed in this project will target the animal proof of concept of potent 5 oxo-ETE antagonists developed in the Powell’s laboratory.
Among his other accomplishments, Rokach was responsible for the development of the drug “Singulair,”a leukotriene-D4 antagonist, used by millions of allergy sufferers for the relief of asthma and rhinitis symptoms.

“Amorchem is honored to be collaborating with Drs. Rokach and Powell, both world-class scientists and leaders in the field of eicosanoid chemistry and biology,” said Elizabeth Douville, general partner at AmorChem. “The importance of 5-oxo-ETE in inflammation has eluded researchers in the field because of the lack of appropriate tools. Drs. Rokach and Powell have developed subnanomolar 5-oxo-ETE receptor antagonists which will enable us to define the specific role of this eicosanoid metabolite in inflammation in vivo,” she added.

Both Vice President for Research Frank Kinney and Florida Tech Assistant Vice President for Research John Politano were integral to the process.

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