NP-120 (ifenprodil), an oral small molecule being repurposed by Algernon Pharmaceuticals for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), has shown promise in preclinical studies and may soon enter Phase 2 clinical tests, the company announced.
Originally developed in the 1990s and sold under the brand name Cerocral by Sanofi in France and Japan, ifenprodil was designed to treat circulatory disorders. Although it is no longer available in France, generic versions of the medication are still sold in Japan.
Algernon, a pharmaceutical company focused on repurposing generic medications that are not available in the U.S. or EU, is investigating if NP-120 might treat IPF due to its potent anti-fibrotic properties. Of note, drug repurposing refers to the process of testing a medication with established safety in conditions other than those for which it was originally intended.
NP-120 belongs to a class of drugs known as N-methyl-d-aspartate (NDMA) receptor glutamate receptor antagonists. Algernon is currently investigating how its mechanism of action may benefit people with IPF.
The company recently announced preclinical study results showing that NP-120 outperformed two globally approved IPF therapies — Genentech’s Esbriet (pirfenidone) and Boehringer Ingelheim‘s Ofev (nintedanib) — in reducing tissue scarring (fibrosis) in the lungs of mice in a model of this disease.
According to these findings, animals given NP-120 (20 mg/kg, three times a day) had a 56% lesser amount of scar tissue compared to untreated mice. In contrast, mice treated with Esbriet had a 44% reduction in the amount of scar tissue compared to untreated animals, and those given Ofev had a 51% reduction.
Since NP-120 is an approved medication with an established safety profile, Algernon is planning to move the therapy directly to a Phase 2 clinical trial to assess its effectiveness in IPF patients.
“We are very pleased to announce NP-120 (ifenprodil) as part of a class of compounds that could be beneficial for patients with IPF,” Christopher J. Moreau, chief executive officer of Algernon Pharmaceuticals, said in a press release.
“IPF is a very serious disease and we plan to move NP-120 (ifenprodil) into a Phase 2 clinical trial as quickly as possible to establish human efficacy. We also intend to pursue partnering discussions specific to our IPF program and to seek an orphan designation with regulatory authorities,” Moreau added.