Pharma / Biotech

A Small-Molecule Inhibitor of the Wnt Pathway, Lorecivivint (SM04690), as a Potential Disease-Modifying Agent for the Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease.

A Small-Molecule Inhibitor of the Wnt Pathway, Lorecivivint (SM04690), as a Potential Disease-Modifying Agent for the Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease.

Spine J. 2020 May 12;:

Authors: Deshmukh V, Ibanez M, Hu H, Cahiwat J, Wei Y, Stewart J, Hood J, Yazici Y

BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Abnormal Wnt signaling in intervertebral discs (IVDs) progresses degenerative disc disease (DDD) pathogenesis by impairing nucleus pulposus (NP) cell function, decreasing matrix deposition, and accelerating fibrosis.
PURPOSE: This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of lorecivivint (LOR; SM04690), a small-molecule Wnt pathway inhibitor, on IVD cells and in an animal model of DDD.
STUDY DESIGN: We used in vitro assays and a rat model of DDD to test the effects of LOR on NP cell senescence and viability, annulus fibrosus (AF) cell fibrosis, and cartilage regeneration and protection.
METHODS: Wnt pathway gene expression was measured in human NP and AF cell cultures treated with LOR or DMSO (vehicle). Chondrocyte-like differentiation of rat and human NP cells, NP cell senescence and protection, and AF cell fibrosis were assessed using gene expression and immunocytochemistry. Disc and plasma pharmacokinetics were analyzed following intradiscal LOR injection in rats. In vivo effects of LOR and vehicle on AF integrity, AF/NP junction, NP cellularity and matrix, and disc height (DH) were compared using histopathology and radiography in a rat coccygeal IVD needle-puncture model of DDD.
RESULTS: In NP and AF cell cultures, LOR inhibited Wnt pathway gene expression compared with vehicle. In NP cells, LOR inhibited senescence, decreased catabolism, and induced differentiation into chondrocyte-like cells; in AF cells, LOR decreased catabolism and inhibited fibrosis. A single intradiscal LOR injection in rats resulted in therapeutic disc concentrations (∼30 nM) for >180 days and minimal systemic exposure. DDD-model rats receiving LOR qualitatively demonstrated increased cartilage matrix and reduced AF lamellar disorganization and fragmentation with significantly (P<0.05) improved histology scores and increased DH compared with vehicle.
CONCLUSIONS: LOR showed beneficial effects on IVD cells in vitro and reduced disease progression in a rat model of DDD compared with vehicle, suggesting that LOR may have disease-modifying therapeutic potential.
CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The current therapeutic options for DDD are pain management and surgical intervention; there are no approved therapies that alter the progression of DDD. Our data support advancing LOR into clinical development as an injectable, small-molecule, potential disease-modifying treatment for DDD in humans.

PMID: 32413487 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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