Epigenetics refers to the governing of gene expression by natural chemical modifications of a cell's DNA or histones (proteins that help control DNA transcription) without any change in the DNA sequence itself. Epigenomics, in turn, describes the large-scale effects on cellular function of interrelated collections of epigenetic modifications. Epigenomic factors play an important role in cell differentiation and the regulation of key cellular processes. Substances capable of regulating gene expression, and hence cell function, through high-level epigenomic mechanisms may hold great therapeutic promise and are the subject of active drug development at DURECT.
DURECT's Epigenomic Regulator Program is a collaborative effort between DURECT and the Department of Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the VCU Medical Center and the McGuire VA Medical Center. The program capitalizes on more than 20 years of research by Shunlin Ren, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Internal Medicine at the VCU Medical Center and a recipient of multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for metabolic disease research.
This program builds on the discovery of a family of compounds that may have therapeutic utility in a wide range of diseases and syndromes, both orphan in nature and affecting broader patient populations. DUR-928, the lead compound in this program, is an endogenous, orally bioavailable small molecule that modulates the activity of nuclear receptors playing a key regulatory role in lipid homeostasis, inflammation, and cell survival. DUR-928 appears to be highly conserved across animal species.
Compelling animal data in the areas of lipid dysregulation and acute organ injury—from 8 preclinical disease models involving 3 animal species—are driving the exploration of potential human indications and clinical development strategies.
Learn more about our Epigenomic Regulator Program lead product candidate: