Australia-based Noxopharm and its subsidiary Nyrada have found a new compound that inhibits interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 4 (IRAK4) protein to potentially help treat various chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

IRAK4 is found in the cells of the body’s immune system and said to be the ‘master switch’ in the development of chronic inflammation.

Any faulty behaviour of this protein in the immune cells is known to be responsible for most of the chronic inflammation forms. Based on this, IRAK4 inhibitors are considered as the next generation of anti-inflammatory medicines.

“We see our discovery as a breakthrough in providing the tools needed to address inflammatory and autoimmune diseases of the nervous system.”

Noxopharm noted the discovery of a new ‘potent’ IRAK4 inhibitor.  The company believes that the candidate can be used to treat common inflammatory diseases, along with those of the central nervous system and peripheral nerves.

The therapy of central nervous system conditions is expected to be possible as the new compound can cross the barriers to enter the brain and peripheral nerves.

Nyrada R&D vice-president James Bonnar said: “A lot of attention currently is being given to developing IRAK4 inhibitors for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and gouty arthritis and lupus, but we see our discovery as a breakthrough in providing the tools needed to address inflammatory and autoimmune diseases of the nervous system.”

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Noxopharm added that capability to cross barriers may allow development of drugs for inflammation related to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and peripheral neuropathies, among others.

Noxopharm CEO Graham Kelly said: “Having a drug that blocks IRAK4 and all its downstream pro-inflammatory cytokine effects, combined with its ability to reach the brain in sufficient levels, is an exciting breakthrough that has resulted from a lot of hard work by a team of Australian chemists and scientists.”

The company is currently conducting pre-clinical programmes to determine the most appropriate therapeutic indications for the new compound. It anticipates entering human clinical trials in 2020.