Oxygen is essential to life. Without it, our cells cannot burn glucose and lipids, which enable them to function properly. Without oxygen, we die.

Oxygen deprivation – known as hypoxia – has a pronounced effect on vital organs such as the brain, which uses approximately 20% of the oxygen from the air we breathe. Hypoxia is a primary cause of tissue death in conditions such as stroke, heart attack and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) which can occur due to infectious diseases like pneumonia and COVID-19.


Number of patient cases annually in which hypoxia is a common denominator

Diffusion Pharmaceuticals’ lead drug, trans sodium crocetinate (TSC), is a purified trans-isomer salt of the carotenoid molecule crocetin. It is a hydrophobic (water-repelling) molecule that works by enhancing the chemical process that holds water molecules together known as hydrogen bonding. The increased level of hydrogen bonding may increase the level of organization among the water molecules, creating a less dense matrix through which oxygen molecules can move more efficiently from areas of high to low oxygen concentrations. In the body, we believe TSC enhances the rate of oxygen diffusion from the lungs onto red blood cells and then from red blood cells into body tissue where the oxygen is used to power the cells. This novel diffusion-enhancing mechanism has been observed to affect hypoxic tissue selectively, thus avoiding problems of tissue over-oxygenation and related oxygen toxicity.

TSC  was originally developed in conjunction with the United States Office of Naval Research to treat multiple organ failure and its resulting mortality caused by low oxygen levels due to blood loss on the battlefield. Evolutions in research have led the Company to focus on addressing some of medicine’s most intractable and difficult-to-treat conditions involving cellular oxygen deficiency, or hypoxia, such as COVID-19, stroke, glioblastoma multiforme (“GBM”) brain cancer, and other conditions and diseases in which hypoxia is a critical factor presenting a significant treatment obstacle .

TSC has been shown to enhance the availability of oxygen in multiple animal models. It increased tissue oxygenation in rat models of cerebral ischemia (Brain Research, 2014) and has demonstrated functional benefit in animal models of acute lung injury and haemorrhagic shock.

The safety and tolerability of TSC has been evaluated in more than 150 patients in a range of clinical trials across several life-threatening conditions, including peripheral artery disease, glioblastoma multiform (a common brain cancer) and in acute stroke.

Given the unique mechanism of action, the substantial unmet medical need, and the clinically significant decrease in blood oxygen levels of many patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, Diffusion Pharmaceutical’s has recently begun investigation of TSC in patients with COVID-19.

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