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  • Writer's pictureAadil Qayium

Two breakthrough studies show a hydrogen sulfide drug prevents preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a life-threatening pregnancy disorder affecting one in twelve of 130 million annual pregnancies worldwide and causes the death of a mother or her unborn child every minute.

In two separate studies, the team at MirZyme Therapeutics led by Professor Asif Ahmed, showed that a chemically engineered Aspirin, dubbed MZe786, prevents preeclampsia. The scientists have proven this beyond doubt using both separate models - a genetically created animal model and a refined surgical model of preeclampsia. The research is published in the prestigious journal Redox Biology.

The founder of Aston Medical School in Birmingham, Professor Ahmed, is also the Chairman and CEO of MirZyme and a world-renowned vascular scientist. He has been working with colleagues from a number of countries. They believe they have unlocked the black box of preeclampsia. This has helped them in charting a roadmap for a cure for this disorder. Prof Ahmed and colleagues’ studies show that preeclampsia is caused due to defect in protective enzymes in combination with a rise in a culprit protein called soluble Flt-1 in the mother’s circulation. The company has been granted a string of global patents.

These scientists developed two models of preeclampsia, a genetically modified model and a surgically induced model of preeclampsia, in which levels of protective enzymes like heme oxygenase or cystathionine γ-lyase are low and levels of the culprit protein soluble Flt-1 is high. These models displayed the signs of severe preeclampsia including hypertension, kidney damage and under-sized babies, which were prevented by the oral administration of the chemically engineered Aspirin, the drug dubbed MZe786. The team discovered that MZe786 released hydrogen sulfide to suppress hypertension, improve kidney function and prevent poor fetal outcome in these models of preeclampsia. They also found that drug MZe786 inhibited the culprit protein sFtl-1 and was a superior therapeutic candidate than aspirin alone in preventing preeclampsia.

MirZyme Therapeutics is focused on the development of tailored therapeutics with artificial intelligence assisted diagnostics to target the right patient population. MirZyme is the first of its kind in the maternal drug space that is taking this approach. The company has been granted a string of global patents for the prevention of preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. From a business perspective, MirZyme has the potential to generate substantial revenues at impressive rates of growth. The company is also partnering with world leading universities.

Prevention of Preeclampsia

Preeclampsia presents itself as a new hypertensive disorder halfway through pregnancy. Every year around the world, it causes the death of a mother or an unborn child every minute or leads to serious complications for some mothers and their baby.

Four in ten of the children born to affected mothers are delivered prematurely and up to one in four are born growth-restricted.

All of them are at risk of health issues into their adulthood, which includes cardiovascular disease, learning difficulties and breathing problems.

Preeclampsia is a dangerous disorder that can shorten lives even after pregnancy by inflicting long-term health consequences on mothers such as kidney and cardiovascular disease, stroke and dementia.

Preeclampsia is a disorder of unmet medical need. There are no drugs to prevent or treat it and the annual global cost burden of preeclampsia is over 100 billion US dollars.

Dr Carolyn Fahm, a bereaved mother and retired biochemist said, “Preeclampsia is a cause that has obsessed me ever since it impacted me. I was unable to attend to my son's funeral arrangements because I was far too ill to leave the hospital. Things like that leave emotional scars. The hypertension has left visibly distended cranial blood vessels that I have seen on one of my CT scans, which was done as part of a neurology workup as an epilepsy patient. Like Covid-19, preeclampsia comes without us knowing we are about to be hit with a life changing and potentially life ending illness. I had no thought that the severe abdominal pain I was feeling in the middle of the night was a symptom of HELLP syndrome. So antenatal education is of such great importance. But having the means to test for preeclampsia and then to have a therapeutic means to reverse the biochemical pathway that leads to the clinical syndrome means everything to me.”

Professor Asif Ahmed, Executive Chairman and CEO of MirZyme said: "Pregnancy should be a joyous time, yet sometime pregnancy is a risky business. Join in our fight to make preeclampsia history. These patents and papers are paving the way for a safe, easy accessible and effective treatment against preeclampsia. One Test. One Pill. Save Two lives is not just our tag line, this we will achieve before this decade is over with sufficient resources.

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