Maroon Biotech has developed a new category of pharmaceuticals which are synthetic surfactant chaperones. This technology has the capability to restore structure and viability to cells damaged by physical and chemical trauma. By reversing post-traumatic molecular alterations, Maroon Biotech’s technology promises to improve recovery from vehicular, military and other severe traumatic injuries, electrical shock and reperfusion injury and has already shown effectiveness at treating experimental spinal cord injury, heart attack and brain injury.
Fundamentally, surfactant chaperones mimic behaviors exhibited by naturally occurring stress proteins that protect living systems after injury. Certain surfactant chaperones have already been proven safe for human use, like various poloxamers which are approved for clinical use. The therapeutic effectiveness of these agents in preserving tissue viability after trauma is being reported by a growing number of research teams using brain, bone, muscle and other tissues.
The cell membrane can be readily disrupted by practically every form of physical and chemical trauma. Victims of falls, burns, motor vehicle accidents, military explosive devices, frostbite and other everyday forms of human trauma suffer tissue loss as a result. Cell membranes are also vulnerable to chemical damage by oxygen free radicals. Excess generation of free radicals occurs in conditions such as myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke.
Cells naturally produce chaperones for damage repair. But when natural protein chaperone systems are overwhelmed, synthetic equivalents become necessary. The synthetic surfactant chaperone technology described here is designed to heal damaged cell membranes by sealing membrane defects the same way natural sealing mechanisms do.
In the 1980’s, Dr. Raphael Lee, Maroon Biotech’s founder, discovered one synthetic surfactant chaperone’s capability to heal wounds in cellular membranes and refold denatured proteins: the amphiphilic copolymer Poloxamer 188 (P-188).
P-188 has been shown to seal cell membranes damaged by a number of different mechanisms. P-188 works by first localizing to damaged cell membranes, which allows low systemic concentrations of the drug to result in high local concentrations at the sites of damage. This is a major advantage over other highly polar polymers that show similar sealing properties, such as polyethylene glycol (PEG), which distribute uniformly in vivo and so must be applied in high concentrations. Once at the membrane, P-188 inserts into the damaged sites and induces the holes in the membrane to seal. It may do this by lowering surface tension in the membrane, thereby allowing phospholipids to bridge the gap in the membrane. After the cell membrane is healed, P-188 is pushed out of the membrane and flushed out of the body with a half-life of about 1 day. Thus P-188 and similar surfactant chaperones can safely heal damaged cells that would otherwise be destined for death.
Today, Maroon Biotech has proprietary surfactant compounds in the development pipeline that could greatly improve outcomes for survivors of military trauma, spinal cord compression, and malignant hyperthermia. Maroon Biotech also has compositions available for licensing that will enhance gene transfection efficacy and reduce reperfusion injury following myocardial infarction or stroke.
Poised for success and excited about its accomplishments, Maroon Biotech is dedicated to developing and commercializing synthetic chaperone technologies that seal disrupted cell membranes and refold denatured proteins.
Last Updated: 07-21-2006