Glen Rock, N.J., May 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OTCQB:RSPI) (“RespireRx” or the “Company”), a leader in the discovery and development of innovative and revolutionary treatments to combat diseases caused by disruption of neuronal signaling, is pleased to announce that scientists associated with the Company have published a manuscript that raises the hope of novel treatments for tinnitus, the perception of sound in the absence of external auditory stimulation. Tinnitus is highly prevalent, with 10-15% of the general population worldwide affected, a statistic that can double in the elderly. The disorder can be markedly debilitating and is associated with and likely causal of anxiety, irritability, depression, sleep loss, social isolation, and suicidal ideation. While there are no treatments that demonstrate any robust efficacy, decades old data from pioneers in the field first discussed the impact of loss of neural inhibition in the disease.
Dr. Jeffrey M. Witkin, Rok Cerne, James M. Cook, and Arnold Lippa, members of the scientific team at RespireRx, and Jodi L. Smith, Ph.D., MD, a neurosurgeon with Ascension St. Vincent in Indianapolis reviewed evidence that loss of neural inhibition due to alterations in GABA neurotransmission might play a role in the etiology of tinnitus. In the manuscript, recently published in Biochemical Pharmacology, “Can GABAkines Quiet the Noise? The GABAA Receptor Neurobiology and Pharmacology of Tinnitus” (https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S0006-2952(22)00161-7), the authors review convergent data sets from previously published anatomy, physiology, and pharmacology reports, which strongly support the concept that downregulation of GABA, the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human brain, and/or its receptors might act as a key regulator of tinnitus. In support of this idea, individual patient reports and several clinical trials have reported improvement in tinnitus symptoms with the use of older generation positive allosteric modulators of GABA (GABAkines). Unfortunately, this positive effect of GABAkines has been confounded by the presence of side effects, such as sedation, which are typically seen with these drugs.
Although older benzodizepine GABAkines like Valium® and Xanax® have and continue to be major world medicines, a resurgence in the identification of improved GABAkines has arisen recently with several companies moving compounds along their development pipeline, including KRM-II-81and analogs from RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. Dr. Witkin (Research Fellow with RespireRx) first described ganaxolone, a neuroactive steroid, as a novel anticonvulsant when he previously headed the Drug Development Group at the National Institutes on Drug Abuse. Ganaxolone was approved this year as Ztalmy® for the treatment of seizures in children suffering from CDKL5-Deficiency Disorder, a rare genetic disease.
As the first author of the current manuscript on tinnitus, Dr. Witkin said, “It is a blessing to see experimental compounds ultimately put to use in the alleviation of suffering. We wrote this review and commentary in Biochemical Pharmacology with the hope that it would infuse renewed energy into the search for new medicinal treatments; the experimental data on GABA suggest the possibility that GABAkines such as our KRM-II-81 could be game-changing for tinnitus patients.”
About RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc.
RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc. is a leader in the discovery and development of medicines for the treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders, with a focus on treatments that address conditions affecting millions of people, as well as certain rare disorders, for which there are few or poor treatment options, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”), epilepsy, pain, recovery from spinal cord injury (“SCI”), certain neurological orphan diseases and obstructive sleep apnea (“OSA”). RespireRx is developing a pipeline of new and re-purposed drug products based on our broad patent portfolios for two drug platforms: (i) neuromodulators, which include AMPAkines and GABAkines, proprietary chemical entities that positively modulate (positive allosteric modulators or “PAMs”) AMPA-type glutamate receptors and GABAA receptors, respectively and (ii) pharmaceutical cannabinoids, which include dronabinol, a synthetic form of ∆9-tetrahydrocannabinol (“Δ9-THC”) that acts upon the nervous system’s endogenous cannabinoid receptors.
The Company holds exclusive licenses and owns patents and patent applications or rights thereto for certain families of chemical compounds that claim the chemical structures and their uses in the treatment of a variety of disorders, as well as claims for novel uses of known drugs.
GABAkines. Under a License Agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Foundation, Inc. and on behalf of its EndeavourRx business unit, RespireRx has licensed rights to certain GABAkines because of their ability to selectively amplify inhibitory neurotransmission at a highly specific, subset of GABAA receptors, thus producing a unique efficacy profile with reduced side effects. Preclinical studies have documented their efficacy in a broad array of animal models of interrelated neurological and psychiatric disorders including epilepsy, pain, anxiety, and depression in the absence of or with greatly reduced propensity to produce sedation, motor-impairment, tolerance, dependence and abuse. The Company currently is focusing on developing KRM-II-81 for the treatment of epilepsy and pain.
KRM-II-81 has displayed a high degree of anti-convulsant activity in a broad range of preclinical studies, including in treatment resistant and pharmaco-resistant models. Not only was KRM-II-81 highly effective in these models, but pharmaco-resistance or tolerance did not develop to its anti-convulsant properties. These latter results are particularly important because pharmaco-resistance occurs when medications that once controlled seizures lose efficacy as a result of chronic use and it is a principal reason some epileptic patients require brain surgery to control their seizures. In support of its potential clinical efficacy, translational studies have demonstrated the ability of KRM-II-81 to dramatically reduce epileptiform electrical activity when administered in situ to brain slices excised from treatment resistant epileptic patients undergoing surgery.
In addition, KRM-II-81 has displayed a high degree of analgesic activity in a broad range of preclinical studies. In intact animal models of pain, the analgesic efficacy of KRM-II-81 was comparable to or greater than commonly used analgesics. At the same time, KRM-II-81 did not display side effects such as sedation and motor impairment, but even more importantly, it did not produce tolerance, dependence, respiratory depression or behavioral changes indicative of abuse liability, which are produced by opioid narcotics and are at the heart of the opioid epidemic.
AMPAkines. Through an extensive translational research effort from the cellular level through Phase 2 clinical trials, the Company has developed a family of novel, low impact AMPAkines, including CX717, CX1739 and CX1942 that may have clinical application in the treatment of CNS-driven neurobehavioral and cognitive disorders, spinal cord injury, neurological diseases, and certain orphan indications. Our lead clinical compounds, CX717 and CX1739, have successfully completed multiple Phase 1 safety trials. Both compounds have also completed Phase 2 proof of concept trials demonstrating target engagement, by antagonizing the ability of opioids to induce respiratory depression.
AMPAkines have demonstrated positive activity in animal models of ADHD, results that have been extended translationally into statistically significant improvement of symptoms observed in a Phase 2 human clinical trial of CX717 in adult patients with ADHD. Statistically significant therapeutic effects were observed within one week. We believe AMPAkines may represent a novel, non-stimulant treatment for ADHD with a more rapid onset of action than alternative non-stimulants, such as Straterra® (atomoxetine), and without the drawbacks of amphetamine-type stimulants.
In a series of important studies funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and published in a number of peer reviewed articles, Dr. David Fuller (University of Florida), a long-time RespireRx collaborator, has demonstrated the ability of CX1739 and CX717, the Company’s lead AMPAkines, to improve motor nerve activity and muscle function in animal models of spinal cord injury (SCI).
ResolutionRx: Pharmaceutical Cannabinoids.
Dronabinol. RespireRx’s ResolutionRx business unit is developing dronabinol, ∆-9-THC, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring substance in the cannabis plant, for the treatment of OSA, a serious respiratory disorder that impacts an estimated 29.4 million people in the United States according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (“AASM”), published in August 2016. OSA has been linked to increased risk for hypertension, heart failure, depression, and diabetes, and has an annual economic cost in the United States of $162 billion according to the AASM. There are no approved drug treatments for OSA.
Two Phase 2 clinical trials have been completed demonstrating the ability of dronabinol to significantly reduce the symptoms of OSA and, subject to raising sufficient finance (of which no assurance can be provided) and pending the outcome of an intended meeting with the FDA, RespireRx believes that it will be able to commence a pharmacokinetic study for a recently discovered and to-be-developed formulation followed by a Phase 3 clinical study for the treatment of OSA with the new formulation. Because dronabinol is already FDA approved for the treatment of AIDS related anorexia and chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, the Company further believes that its re-purposing strategy would only require approval by the FDA of a 505(b)(2) new drug application (“NDA”), an efficient regulatory pathway that allows the use of publicly available data.
Additional information about RespireRx and the matters discussed herein can be obtained on the Company’s web-site at www.RespireRx.com or in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission at www.sec.gov.
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For more information about the risks and uncertainties the Company faces, see “Item 1A. Risk Factors” in our 2021 Form 10-K. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. The Company does not undertake and specifically declines any obligation to update any forward-looking statements or to publicly announce the results of any revisions to any statements to reflect new information or future events or developments. We advise investors, as well as potential collaborators and other potential stakeholders, to consult any further disclosures we may make on related subjects in our annual reports on Form 10-K and other reports that we file with or furnish to the SEC.
Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary
Telephone: (917) 834-7206
RespireRx Pharmaceuticals Inc.
126 Valley Road,
Glen Rock, NJ 07452
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