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Patent Set for Heart Tissue Regeneration Drug

Kevin Strange and Voot Yin

Kevin Strange, left, and Voot Yin are the inventors of MSI-1436 (MDI Biological Laboratory)

24 August 2016. [Updated] A drug that stimulates growth of heart tissue to fix damage from heart attacks is scheduled to receive a U.S. patent. MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, developer of the small molecule, or low molecular weight drug code-named MSI-1436, says the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a notice of allowance indicating the inventors met the requirements for a new patent, which should be issued shortly.

The patent covers work by MDI Lab geneticist Voot Yin and physiologist Kevin Strange in their discovery of regenerative compounds from zebrafish, often used as a model organism in biology since it shares 70 percent of their genes with humans. “Our goal has been to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the repair and regeneration of tissues in zebrafish,” says Yin in an MDI Lab statement, “so that we can identify drugs like MSI-1436 that will reawaken dormant genetic programs and activate our own innate repair mechanisms.”

The compound in this case stimulates heart muscle cells called cardiomyocytes that repair heart tissue damage from heart attacks. That damage is often replaced by scar tissue, which prevents the heart from beating in its normal rhythm. MSI-1436 formulates the compound into a therapy, say Yin and Strange, which both removes the scar tissue while generating healthy heart muscle cells. Preclinical tests with lab mice show MSI-1436 improves heart function, reduces scar tissue damage, and increases survival after induced heart attacks.

The inventors are founders of Novo Biosciences, a spin-off enterprise in Bar Harbor to commercialize their discoveries, and the first company created at MDI in its 118-year history.  Strange is Novo Biosciences’ CEO and Yin is chief scientist. The company, founded in 2013, develops small-molecule therapies for tissue regeneration licensed from MDI Lab, with MSI-1436 (formerly ZF143) as its lead product. In July 2015, Novo Biosciences gave notice of its plan to raise funds through debt financing, according to a filing with the SEC.

Yin and Strange believe MSI-1436 can be applied to other disorders characterized by tissue degeneration, notably muscular dystrophy and wound scarring, where both removal of damage and regeneration of new tissue are needed. Other small molecule drugs in Novo Biosciences’ pipeline are being developed to treat peripheral neuropathy that develops as a result of damage to the peripheral nervous system, in this case from cancer chemotherapy.

The company says it offers a simpler and more direct approach than other tissue regeneration technologies. “Much of the current research in regenerative medicine focuses on highly complex stem cell therapies and tissue engineering strategies,” notes Strange. “Our research demonstrates that repairing tissues may be as simple as taking a pill that activates our innate repair mechanisms. Because of the ease with which they can be administered, [our] pharmacological strategies hold the promise of dramatically increasing access to therapies for tissue and organ repair.”

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