KalVista Pharmaceuticals has announced that it has won a £2.4 million grant from the Technology Strategy Board under the UK Government’s £180 million Biomedical Catalyst funding initiative for research and development in the life sciences.
KalVista will use the new funding to accelerate the development of an oral plasma kallikrein inhibitor for the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME), the leading cause of working-age adult blindness.
The current first-line treatment for DME is laser or Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) inhibitors but there is still no National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) approved pharmacological therapy available in the UK so there remains a medical and economic need for these patients.
Plasma kallikrein is an enzyme recently shown to be elevated in the vitreous of DME patients and to cause excessive vascular permeability in models of diabetes, suggesting its potential as a novel VEGF-independent target for the treatment of DME.
The Biomedical Catalyst grant will allow KalVista to complete pre-clinical development of oral plasma kallikrein inhibitors identified by the Company and prepare a drug candidate ready for Phase I clinical development.
“We are very pleased to have secured Biomedical Catalyst funding for the development of an oral plasma kallikrein inhibitor for DME,” said Andrew Crockett, KalVista’s CEO.
Crockett continued, “It is a recognition of the potential of our approach and the expertise of our team and will allow us to bring to the clinic more rapidly a new treatment that we hope will ultimately improve outcomes for patients with what is a very serious complication in diabetes.
“The oral programme will run alongside our $2.2 million collaboration with the JDRF, the leading global organization focused on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research, for the development of an intravitreal (IVT) injectable form of plasma kallikrein inhibitor. That collaboration is progressing well with first in human trials planned for next year. We look forward to similarly rapid progress under the Biomedical Catalyst grant.”
KalVista’s oral and intravitreal injection plasma kallikrein inhibitor programmes both draw on the Company’s established leadership position and expertise with this target class.
While both routes of administration offer potential benefits to patients, a successful oral drug would offer a novel delivery approach for better patient acceptability and the possibility of earlier treatment of the disease.