Duska Therapeutics, Inc. (DSKA.OB) is a specialty pharmaceutical company that is focused on developing cardiovascular and pulmonary medicines based on the new pharmacology of adenosine 5’-triphosphate (ATP) and nitric oxide (NO). The two molecules play a role in cellular metabolism and signal transduction, which Duska feels can be used in new therapeutic modalities or the treatment of major cardiovascular disorders.
ATP is a naturally-occurring substance found in every human cell and whose energy fuels all functions of the human body. ATP is released from cells into the extracellular space under physiologic and disease conditions. The extracellular ATP then activates the P2 receptors (P2R) and exerts specific actions depending on the subtype of the activated receptor and the targeted cell type. There are two main receptor categories: P2Y have G protein coupled receptors control intracellular signal transduction pathways; and P2X have ionic channels embedded into the cell membrane that when activated allow the flux of certain ions to cross the cell membrane. ATP formulations have been used as approved pharmaceuticals in Europe for over 50 years for certain medical indications.
Duska is working on three investigational products – ATPace™, Vagonixen™ and ATPotent™ – all targeting specific P2Y and P2X receptor subtypes. The products either activate or block the receptors, which then can be utilized for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.
ATPace™ is being developed for the acute treatment of cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rate), including a rapid regular heart rate of the atria known as paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT). ATPace™ is also being developed to diagnose bradycardia. An estimated 89,000 new cases of PSVT are diagnosed annually with about 570,000 persons currently managing the health issue. Duska is modifying the proposed design of its Phase 3 clinical trial based upon the FDA’s comments and will submit a revised protocol to the FDA in the near future.
Voganixen™ is being developed for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive disease that permanently damages the lungs. About 120,000 Americans die each year of COPD, making it the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. About 16 million people in the U.S. have the disease, which costs an estimated $42 million in medical costs and lost productivity. Duska’s proprietary technology targets specific P2R in the lungs that mediate the bronchoconstrictive coughing associated with COPD. By neutralizing the coughing, the inflammation of patients’ lungs can be inhibited.
Finally, ATPotent™ is being developed to enhance sperm mobility in conjunction with in-vitro fertilization (IV) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). About half of the 6 million infertile couples in the U.S. are affected with male infertility issues.
James Kuo, Chairman and CEO of Duska, stated, “We believe we are making remarkable progress in advancing our clinical drug development programs and have broadened our cardiovascular drug portfolio, while remaining on track with our financial goals.”
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