LA JOLLA, CA, January 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Researchers from the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center and UCSF, and CalciMedica, Inc., are presenting a poster at the International Stroke Conference being held in Los Angeles that describes the use of one of CalciMedica’s calcium release-activated calcium (CRAC) channel inhibitors in an experimental model of stroke. The poster, to be presented on Thursday, January 25th, is titled “Calcium release-activated calcium (CRAC) channel inhibition protects against inflammation in ischemic stroke”. Authors from San Francisco VA/UCSF include lead author Atsushi Mizuma, as well Rachid Kacimi and Midori Yenari. The research indicates that a CRAC channel inhibitor developed by CalciMedica significantly reduced the numbers of activated microglia in the brain in the transient middle cerebral artery occlusion model of stroke in mice. This resulted in reduced infarct volume and lesion size as well as improvements in various behavioral and functional endpoints.
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 poster, said “Building on earlier studies in this collaboration in traumatic brain injury, the impact of microglia activation in acute neurological emergencies is becoming more apparent and suggests a new approach. We are excited about expanding this work, better characterizing the effects of these compounds in our disease models, and 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 provide a support and surveillance function to neurons, nurturing and protecting them. However, when activated, either by dead or dying brain cells that could, for example, result from a stroke, or infectious organisms, microglia can release cytotoxic substances or cytokines that can also injure or kill neurons. In this way, activated microglial cells can contribute to the injury, and by limiting this response, damage can be reduced. Chronic activation of microglia can potentially lead to other neurological problems, including neurodegeneration and central pain.
Ken Stauderman, Chief Scientific Officer at CalciMedica, said “There is important research coming from different research labs on the roles of CRAC channels in normal and disease physiology. We are excited that our CRAC channel inhibitors may have application in settings such as stroke and chronic neuroinflammation, where the medical need is high and current therapies are lacking.”
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 many immune cell types, 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 calcium enters the cell. CRAC channels are critical in other cell types as well 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 a privately-held, clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on CRAC channels, and leading the discovery and development of novel CRAC channel modulators for the treatment of acute or chronic diseases in which inflammation plays a role. CRAC channels control calcium entry into immune and other cell types. In T cells, calcium signaling is essential for the adaptive immune response, and the CRAC channel has been clinically validated as an important drug target in humans through the use of calcineurin inhibitors that act downstream from CRAC channels. CalciMedica is headquartered in San Diego, CA. 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 Chief Operating Officer