Major Funding For New Drugs To Help People Suffering From ALS

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — For the last several years South San Francisco-based drug developer Cytokinetics has worked to come up with a drug to help those suffering from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. About 100,000 people die from this disease every year.

Respiratory failure is one of the major complications of ALS. After some earlier set-backs, Cytokinetics has inked deal to collaborate with global pharma giant Astellas to conduct further research on a drug that could slow the loss of muscle function that helps ALS patients breathe.

The drug is called tirasemtiv and Astellas has committed to pay $65 million to help Cytokinetics commercialize it outside the U.S and Europe.

The deal will also provide another $30 million to develop a drug known now only as CK-2127107. Researchers are evaluating it as a next-generation skeletal muscle compound that may improve muscle function and physical performance.

“Advancing tirasemtiv and CK-2127107 for the potential treatment of ALS reinforces our shared commitment to deliver on the promise of fast skeletal troponin activation for people living with ALS who are fighting this dreadful disease,” said Cytokenetics’ president and CEO Robert Blum.

ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, after a famous baseball player who was struck by it. This fatal disease attacks the nerve cells and causes them to break down and die. Early symptoms include muscle twitching, slurred speech and weakness in the arms and legs. There is no cure.

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