News Release

One drug, many diseases

Business Announcement

American Chemical Society

It seems too good to be true: a single drug that could treat humanity's worst afflictions, including atherosclerosis, cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and arthritis. All of these diseases have one thing in common -- they involve an inflammatory protein called NLRP3. Now, biotech start-ups and pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop drugs that inhibit the function of this protein, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society. 

NLRP3 is part of a large protein complex called the inflammasome, which triggers a chain of events that makes cells break open and spill their inflammation-inducing contents. This protein is involved in so many diseases that drug companies don't even know where to begin, Associate Editor Ryan Cross writes. Scientists working to develop NLRP3 inhibitors also face other challenges: notably, the exact structure of the inflammasome remains mysterious.

Nevertheless, about a dozen companies have programs dedicated to blocking NLRP3 or related inflammasome proteins. One such inhibitor, called MCC950, blocks NLRP3 with high specificity in the lab. However, a small clinical trial of the compound by Pfizer showed weaker potency than expected, as well as liver damage at high doses. Some companies are now using MCC950 as a starting point to design safer and more effective molecules, while others are trying to find inhibitors unrelated to the compound. Currently, several NLRP3 inhibitors with a range of mechanisms are in preclinical, Phase I and Phase II trials, Cross reports.


The article, "Could an NLRP3 inhibitor be the one drug to conquer common diseases?," is freely available here.

For more research news, journalists and public information officers are encouraged to apply for complimentary press registration for the ACS Spring 2020 National Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS' mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and its people. The Society is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a specialist in scientific information solutions (including SciFinder® and STN®), its CAS division powers global research, discovery and innovation. ACS' main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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