Alkahest’s age-related therapy enters stage 2

Age-related macular degeneration can lead to major vision loss. But researchers at Alkahest have announced they are moving forward with trials for a new orally-administered treatment.

As we reported in an exclusive interview with CEO Karoly Nikolich recently, Alkahest’s approach to blood plasma and the development of Longevity therapies is a cautious and well-planned route.

Their approach is not to transfer whole plasma, but to examine and find the tiny components inside of it that are both beneficial and detrimental to the body and therefore decisive in the aging process. Once located, they put the components through the arduous process of ‘fractionation’ to produce a cross-section, called GRF-6019, consisting solely of the beneficial components, which they are now trialling with the FDA.

AKST4290, another drug therapy designed for macular degeneration works by targeting a detrimental protein that increases in prevalence with age.

Macular degeneration is the leading cause of severe and permanent vision loss for people aged over 60 [1]. So any promising research into the causes and future treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is to be welcomed.

The condition, which causes central vision loss, can lead to major lifestyle issues as sufferers can experience blurred vision as well as dark spots. This deterioration of the macular can mean major difficulties when it comes to carrying out everyday tasks such as reading, driving, watching television or facial recognition.

Currently, treatments for macular degeneration include light therapy, as well as invasive injections into the eye. 

However, in the latest development in the battle against the condition, the California-headquartered pharmaceutical company Alkahest has announced it is moving to Stage 2 trials with a new orally-administered treatment [2]

“Age-related macular degeneration is currently the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the over-65 population of the developed world,” said Elizabeth Jeffords, Chief Strategy Officer at Alkahest.

Pointing out that the global prevalence of the condition is expected to increase from 170 million people to 288 million people by 2040, she added: “The addition of a safe and effective oral treatment option could have a profound impact on the treatment of this growing population.”

This latest study is building on earlier research on the oral administration of the small molecule CCR3 inhibitor AKST4290. The treatment is designed to block the action of eotaxin, a type of protein that increases with age and is related to certain age-related diseases. 

Around 15 trial participants who have one eye affected by neovascular age-related macular degeneration will be enrolled at the University of Vienna, Austria. The impact of the treatment on a number of factors associated with AMD, including choroidal blood flow and oxygen saturation, will be measured over a four-week period.

This latest trial from Alkahest follows previous studies at the company, which is committed to targeting the aging process in a bid to target age-related disease. 

Notably, following findings from Alkahest founder Tony Wyss-Coray that blood transfusions from young mice into old mice can delay or even reverse aging, the team is now carrying out research with Alzheimer’s sufferers which is using blood plasma infusions in a bid to delay the progression of the disease. 


Image credit: Alkahest