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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 8;107(23):10661-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1001349107. Epub 2010 Jun 1.

A human surfactant peptide-elastase inhibitor construct as a treatment for emphysema.

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Paka Pulmonary Pharmaceuticals, Acton, MA 01720, USA.


Two million Americans suffer from pulmonary emphysema, costing $2.5 billion/year and contributing to 100,000 deaths/year. Emphysema is thought to result from an imbalance between elastase and endogenous inhibitors of elastase, leading to tissue destruction and a loss of alveoli. Decades of research have still not resulted in an effective treatment other than stopping cigarette smoking, a highly addictive behavior. On the basis of our previous work, we hypothesize that small molecule inhibitors of human neutrophil elastase are ineffective because of rapid clearance from the lungs. To develop a long-acting elastase inhibitor with a lung pharmacodynamic profile that has minimal immunogenicity, we covalently linked an elastase inhibitor, similar to a trifluoro inhibitor that was used in clinical trials, to a 25-amino-acid fragment of human surfactant peptide B. We used this construct to prevent human neutrophil elastase-induced emphysema in a rodent model. The elastase inhibitor alone, although in a 70-fold molar excess to elastase in a mixture with <0.6% residual elastase activity, provided no protection from elastase-induced emphysema. Covalently combining an endogenous peptide from the target organ with a synthetic small molecule inhibitor is a unique way of endowing an active compound with the pharmacodynamic profile needed to create in vivo efficacy.

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