Horizon 2020, the European Union’s prestigious research and innovation program, recently awarded ATXA Therapeutics €2.5 million ($2.91 million) to support the development of ATXA’s lead therapy candidate NTP42 and help get it to market quicker as a treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
The ATXA research project was selected from a highly competitive field of 1,280 applications, from which 64 were chosen to receive grants. ATXA was ranked in the top 1 percent of all applications.
“This is a wonderful endorsement of ATXA’s overall mission and validation of its achievements to date,” Therese Kinsella, founder and chief scientific officer of ATXA, said in a press release. “We hope that this strong Europe-wide recognition of ATXA’s overall goal of bringing a new drug to the market for PAH will go a long way to bringing other investors on board as part of its current fund-raise campaign.”
PAH is a progressive illness that affects both the lungs and heart. It is characterized by increased blood pressure due to narrower blood vessels in the lungs, which makes it more difficult for the blood to capture oxygen and circulate from the lungs into the heart. Due to this increased lung blood pressure, the heart also suffers major alterations because it needs to apply increased strength to be able to pump blood efficiently.
Based on the underlying causes of PAH, ATXA developed NTP42 to specifically inhibit the action of the vasoconstrictive molecule prostanoid thromboxane A2 (TXA2). By binding to the T prostanoid receptor, the investigational treatment can prevent lung vessels constriction and blood platelet aggregation, as well as pro-inflammatory and blood vessels remodeling signals.
Results from previous clinical trials showed that PAH patients have increased levels of TXA2, which were also found to be associated with more advanced disease and worse clinical outcome. These findings further support ATXA’s strategy and the development of NTP42 as a PAH-targeted therapy.
Preclinical studies with animal models of PAH also demonstrated the therapeutic activity of NTP42 as both a standalone treatment and in combination with other standard therapies.
NTP42 recently received orphan drug designation from the European Medicines Agency and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a PAH treatment. These designations are expected to facilitate and expedite its clinical development and regulatory review in both areas of the world.
ATXA is focused on advancing NTP42 into clinical trials and achieve marketing authorization to offer an improved treatment option and new hope for PAH patients, the company states on its website.