Ex-Amgen Respiratory Scientists Form New Company

September 10, 2019. Ex-Amgen leaders in respiratory disease form new company Aeon Respire, Inc., based on their pivotal discovery reported in Frontiers in Pharmacology (Feb. 2019, doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.00051). They found that the approved drugs niclosamide and nitazoxanide are potent inhibitors of the calcium-activated chloride channel TMEM16A that fully bronchodilate human airways. Beta-agonists are a standard of care in treating asthma and COPD but lose efficacy in severe disease where inflammation is poorly controlled.TMEM16A offers a new mechanism to bronchodilate airways and block the multiple contractiles operating in severe disease. To discover novel TMEM16A antagonists, a library of over 580,000 compounds was screened. Niclosamide and nitazoxanide were discovered as potent TMEM16A antagonists that fully open airways and resist use- and -inflammatory desensitization pathways that limit beta-agonist action. TMEM16A inhibitors also offer a novel mechanism to block pathological mucus accumulation, the other leading cause of airway obstruction besides bronchoconstriction. Aeon Respire, Inc. was formed based on the conviction of the Founders Dirk Smith and John Sullivan in this science and the great need of patients suffering from poorly controlled asthma, COPD, and cystic fibrosis.