Diffusion Pharmaceuticals is moving rapidly to evaluate trans sodium crocetinate (TSC)’s potential to address some of medicine’s most intractable and difficult-to-treat conditions that involve cellular oxygen deficiency, or hypoxia.
Our lead product candidate, TSC, is being developed to enhance the diffusion of oxygen to tissues with low oxygen levels, also known as hypoxia. Hypoxia is a critical, complicating factor in many intractable and difficult-to-treat conditions affecting people of all ages, including cancers, cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory disease including ARDS, skin and soft tissue diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. We have previously evaluated TSC in a variety of preclinical and clinical studies. We believe that the data we have obtained through certain preclinical studies provide support for TSC’s ability to improve oxygenation, while data obtained through the clinical trials we have undertaken to date suggest TSC is safe and well-tolerated at the doses tested, including administration of TSC to more than 180 human subjects and patients with GBM, acute stroke, COVID-19, acute lung injury, and peripheral artery disease with intermittent claudication.
Following completion of our clinical trial evaluating TSC in hospitalized COVID-19 patients in February 2021, the next step we have planned in the development of TSC is the design and execution of a trilogy of clinical studies using short-term, experimental models to evaluate the clinical effects of TSC on oxygenation. Data from our prior clinical trials have contributed significantly to our understanding of the safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetics of TSC. In addition, post hoc analyses of two of our prior studies involving patients with peripheral artery disease with claudication and unresected GBM tumors have provided preliminary signals suggesting TSC’s effect on oxygenation. However, neither of these studies was statistically powered to formally evaluate efficacy, and we therefore believe that further, robust clinical development of TSC requires a prospective exploration of the relationship between the level of exposure (dose) and response (change in oxygenation).
To this end, we plan to execute three short-term clinical trials during 2021, each of which we expect to conduct in the U.S. and fund with cash-on-hand. We believe positive data from any one or more of the three TSC Oxygenation Trials would provide evidence of a definitive effect of TSC on oxygenation, whether through increased uptake in the lungs, enhanced delivery, increased utilization at the tissue level, or some combination thereof. Positive data from any of these studies, if obtained, will also guide the subsequent steps of our development strategy focused on demonstrating the clinical and therapeutic benefits of TSC in relevant patient populations across the hypoxia continuum.
Assuming success in one or more of the three TSC Oxygenation Trials, we expect to identify and announce the specific, hypoxia-related indications we will target in advancing TSC’s development in the fourth quarter of 2021 and intend to initiate our Planned Phase 2 Hypoxia-related Indication Trial in the first quarter of 2022.
In addition to TSC, Diffusion owns the rights to DFN-529, a novel PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway inhibitor that was previously in preclinical development in oncology, specifically for GBM, and for which two Phase 1 clinical trials have been completed for age-related macular degeneration. DFN-529 has shown activity in both in vitro and in vivo glioblastoma animal models and has been demonstrated to be orally bioavailable and capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier.