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LA JOLLA, CA, November 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Researchers from the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and UCSF, and CalciMedica, Inc., are presenting a poster at the 46th annual Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego describing the use of calcium release-activated calcium (CRAC) channel inhibitors in traumatic brain injury (TBI). The poster, to be presented on Wednesday, November 16th, is titled “Calcium release-activated calcium (CRAC) channel inhibition protects against experiment brain injury by inhibiting microglial activation”. It indicates that a CRAC channel inhibitor developed by CalciMedica protected neurons in association with microglia, both in vitro and in vivo, to various insults, including oxygen deprivation, immune activation with pro-inflammatory agents and blunt force trauma, through modulation of microglia. In the TBI model, the CRAC channel inhibitor decreased lesion size, brain hemorrhage and neurological deficits.

Midori Yenari, MD, Professor in the Dept. of Neurology at UCSF School of Medicine and the San Francisco VA Medical Center Neurology Dept. and senior author of the paper, said “This work potentially opens up a new approach to modulate the acute inflammation that can be so damaging in neurological emergencies like TBI and stroke. We are excited about expanding this work, better characterizing the effects of these compounds in our disease models, and hopefully making the transition to human studies, where the need for effective therapies is so great.”

Microglia are immune cells that reside in the central nervous system; they are similar to macrophage cells in other tissues. They are typically quiescent, but support and protect neurons when activated by scavenging extracellular debris, including dead or dying cells, and bacteria and viruses. They can release cytotoxic substances like H2O2, or release cytokines to either directly kill bacteria or mount an immune response against them, but this can also injure neurons if uncontrolled. It is hypothesized that during and shortly after brain trauma, activated microglial cells contribute to the injury, and by limiting this response, damage can be reduced.

Sudarshan Hebbar, Senior Vice President, Clinical Development at CalciMedica, said, “Our collaboration with Dr. Yenari has been very gratifying, as she is an expert in neuroinflammation, an area in which we think CRAC channel inhibitors may have a role to play. She is also an accomplished translational researcher, which is important as we think about next steps.” Ken Stauderman, Senior Vice President, Research at CalciMedica, added, “We hope to look at the effects of these compounds in both acute and chronic neuroinflammation, which are components of many serious neurological disorders and diseases, first in animals and then potentially in patients.”

About CRAC channels and Orai

CRAC channels, comprising Orai and regulatory STIM proteins, function to maintain proper levels of calcium in most non-excitable cells. In immune cells, particularly T cells, calcium is an important intracellular signaling molecule that controls cytokine production and the immune response. In T cells CRAC channels are the primary means by which intracellular calcium levels are modulated. In addition, aberrant activation of CRAC channels in pancreatic acinar cells is thought to play a key role in the pathobiology of acute pancreatitis.

About CalciMedica, Inc.

CalciMedica is the leading biopharmaceutical company focused on CRAC channel drug discovery and development, seeking novel drugs for the treatment of acute or chronic diseases in which inflammation plays a role. For example, CRAC channels control calcium entry that is essential for the adaptive immune response, and this pathway has been clinically validated as an important drug target in humans through the use of calcineurin inhibitors that act downstream from CRAC channels. For more information, please visit the company website at www.calcimedica.com.

About the University of California, San Francisco

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – and other partner and affiliated hospitals and healthcare providers throughout the Bay Area.

About the San Francisco VA Medical Center

SFVAMC has one of the largest medical research programs in the national VA system, with more than 200 research scientists, all of whom are faculty members at University of California, San Francisco.

Michael Dunn, President and Senior Vice President, Corp. Dev.
CalciMedica, Inc.