Atelerix’s lead drug ATX-0199 reverses the suppression of breathing caused by opioids (called opioid induced respiratory depression, or OIRD), while preserving the pain relief the opioid provides. This ability to restore breathing while preserving pain relief is a major differentiator between ATX-0199 and current standard-of-care naloxone. Upon administration, naloxone restores breathing but, as an unwanted side effect, also reverses pain relief. While this may be acceptable in the community setting, in the surgical setting it is highly problematic since the purpose of opioids there is to control pain. The ability to reverse OIRD-related breathing disorders while preserving pain relief during and after surgery is a widely recognized unmet medical need, with a billion $ US market and millions of potential surgery patients awaiting a solution.
In NIH-funded research, ATX-0199 has been shown to restore breathing while retaining pain relief in multiple OIRD animal models via a novel mechanism of action. The drug is currently in the late pre-clinical stage, with the goal of an FDA-approved IND allowing human testing within 18 months. ATX-0199 was derived from a novel, proprietary small molecule platform of “active thiol based compounds” (ATBC’s) which includes promising back-up molecules.