Updated on 1 August 2012
If ViroMed's VM202 gets marketed VM202, it will be able to treat a significant number of patients
VM202 is a DNA-based drug that is designed to produce two isoforms of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) - HGF 728 and HGF 723 - when taken up by a cell. The HGF has two very important biological functions, angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) and nerve cell regeneration. Based on these activities, VM202 can be used to treat three major human diseases, including painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDPN), critical limb ischemia (CLI), and coronary artery diseases (CAD).
PDPN is the most extreme form of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), a commonly encountered neuropathic pain syndrome characterized by tingling sensations or numbness in the extremities. DPN is one of the most typical complications associated with diabetes mellitus, occurring in about 60-to-70 percent of diabetic patients. Among these DPN patients, approximately 11 percent suffer from severe pain, defined as PDPN, which causes pain so high that it can lead to sleep deprivation and depression, thus severely compromising patients' quality of life.
PDPN results from the destruction of nerve endings due to microvascular and nerve cell injuries brought on by diabetes mellitus. Besides causing extreme pain, PDPN also accounts for significant morbidity by pre-disposing the affected area to ulceration and amputation. At present, the only available drugs are pain killers, which do nothing more than manage the pain to a barely tolerable level.
Another target disease of VM202 is critical limb ischemia (CLI), which is a form of peripheral artery disease (PAD). PAD can occur wherever the blood supply is obstructed. One of the main causes is atherosclerosis, which results in the formation of plaques in the vasculature that can cause vessel obstruction and embolism. When PAD occurs in leg, it is called ischemic limb disease. CLI is the late-stage manifestation of ischemic limb disease. The most commonly affected regions are the lower limbs.
CLI patients experience ischemic rest pain, ischemic skin lesions, as-well-as ulcers or gangrene. Unfortunately, currently available treatments are limited to re-vascularization options such as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty (PTA) and bypass surgery. When such re-vascularization techniques cannot be applied, the only remaining option is amputation. In the US, it is reported that 200,000 cases of amputation associated with CLI occur annually. Moreover, amputation is directly related with a significantly elevated mortality rate, reported to be striking 50 percent within five years of amputation.