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VM507 is an antibody that can activate c-MET, a hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) receptor, and shows activation of HGF when administered to patients. The drug can be delivered through vascular or local injection. Although it is an antibody therapy, VM507 does not appear to stimulate immune rejection.
IgA nephropathy, also known as Berger’s disease, is the most common type of glomerulitis in the world. About one million patients suffer from Berger’s disease in Korea. It is caused by excessive production of type A antibodies that build up in the kidney, which leads to leakage of blood into the urine via inflammation in the glomeruli, the clusters of capillaries that filter body waste in blood. IgA nephropathy usually progresses slowly, but the course of the disease varies from person to person. Hematuria and proteinuria are often found late in disease progression. About one-fourth of the patients with the disease develop chronic renal failure in 10 years, requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant. For these reasons, early diagnosis is critical for monitoring prognosis.
Effective cures for IgA have yet to be found. To manage symptoms, blood pressure medication, glomerular pressure medication, and immunosuppressants are used, taking proteinuria and kidney function into consideration. As these drugs are not fundamental cures, the unmet medical need in this disease remains high.
The joint study, conducted by a college research team led by Professor Lee Jung-pyo and Helixmith, revealed that the amount of c-MET measured in the urine of patients with IgA nephropathy has a close relationship to the onset and progression of the disease. The study also showed that VM507 restored the function of renal intervascular cells and relieved inflammation in an in vitro model of IgA nephropathy.
“We have shown the potential utility of VM507 in various forms of kidney disease, and the company is seeking to begin formal clinical trial development,” Helixmith CEO Yu Seung-shin said.
The study results were published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcmm.15636)