Pharma Focus Asia

Zhimeng Biopharma's CB03 Granted Orphan Drug Status by the US FDA for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis as a Potassium Ion Channel Opener

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Shanghai Zhimeng Biopharma, Inc. (referred to as Zhimeng) has recently announced that their innovative small-molecule compound known as CB03, which selectively activates KCNQ2/3 channels, has been granted orphan drug designation (ODD) by the US FDA for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). This promising compound is also in development for various other central nervous system (CNS) disorders, including refractory epilepsy and major depressive disorders (MDD).

CB03, an independent development of Zhimeng, holds potential as a therapeutic agent for ALS and several other CNS conditions. Currently, a phase 1 clinical study is underway in Australia and the United States to evaluate CB03's safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics in healthy subjects. The dosing phase, including both single and multiple doses, is anticipated to conclude by the end of 2023.

Zhimeng, highlighted the significance of the FDA's orphan drug designation for CB03 in its global clinical development for ALS and other CNS diseases. Given the severe nature of ALS and the limited treatment options available, Zhimeng aims to offer a safer and more effective medication to ALS patients worldwide, with ALS being the primary focus for CB03's initial indication.

CB03 addresses neuronal hyperexcitability, a critical factor in various neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric CNS disorders such as ALS, epilepsy, MDD, and neuropathic pain. Potassium (K+) channels, as a widely distributed and diverse group of ion channels, play a pivotal role in regulating neuronal excitability, action potential discharges, and more. CB03, as a selective KCNQ2/3 potassium ion channel opener, exhibits favorable chemical and metabolic stability, enhanced biological and pharmacological activity in in vitro settings, as well as promising pharmacokinetic properties. Consequently, CB03 appears to present fewer safety concerns compared to other channel openers, warranting further clinical development to demonstrate its potential benefits for ALS patients.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder that impacts nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, resulting in the gradual loss of muscle control. While the precise causes of ALS remain unclear, it is believed that neuron hyperexcitability may play a significant role in disease initiation and progression. ALS typically commences with muscle twitching, weakness in limbs, and difficulty swallowing or speaking. Eventually, it affects the muscles essential for movement, speech, eating, and breathing. Sadly, the majority of ALS patients only survive for 3-5 years following diagnosis, and there is currently no cure for this fatal disease. Although some drugs are available for managing symptoms and slowing disease progression, they do not provide a definitive solution.



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