Unmet medical need
PledPharma develops novel therapies for life-threatening diseases
PledPharma develops novel drugs based on its clinically proven PLED technology to protect against drug-induced oxidative stress in cells – a condition that can be associated with chemotherapy and paracetamol poisoning.
Chemotherapy for colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the Western world. Every year, more than 450,000 people are diagnosed with the disease.
One of the first-line options for colorectal cancer is a combination of chemotherapy drugs known as FOLFOX (FOLinic acid, 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) and Oxaliplatin). While FOLFOX provides better treatment outcomes than older treatments, the severity of the side effects are a major problem. Because of these side effects, the planned dose of chemotherapy cannot be achieved. As a result, less than half of all patients receive their prescribed dose. There is therefore a major unmet medical need to reduce the side effects of FOLFOX.
Side effects of chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is an effective treatment for cancer, but the side effects of the treatment are often severe. A common and serious side effect is nerve damage (neuropathy), which affects nearly all patients with long-lasting symptoms of tingling in the hands and feet, loss of balance and increased sensitivity to touch.
Drugs to reduce the side effects
There are supportive drugs today that can prevent some of the side effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea. There are also drugs that can stimulate the production of various blood cells, thereby reducing the time that patients suffer from severe anemia – a very common side effect. However, there is still no supportive drug for the prevention of severe nerve pain (neuropathies).
Paracetamol is the most widely used drug in the world for treating pain and is available as both a prescription drug and over the counter. Meanwhile, paracetamol poisoning is one of the most common forms of poisoning due to intentional or accidental drug overdoses. Intentional paracetamol overdose is one of the most popular methods of attempted suicide among young people aged 10-19, where girls dominate.
Paracetamol poisoning is complicated by the fact that paracetamol is generally considered the gentlest of analgesic drugs, and determining whether a paracetamol overdose is accidental may initially be difficult because the difference between a safe and toxic dose is minimal. The symptoms may also be fairly diffuse or non-existent during the first 24 hours after ingestion. Paracetamol overdose can lead to acute liver failure, which may result in the need for a liver transplant and, ultimately, death.
Paracetamol overdose is a major problem worldwide. In Sweden, the number of paracetamol poisoning-related questions received by the Poisons Information Center has increased threefold since 2000. In the UK, paracetamol overdoses account for 100,000 emergency department visits, 50,000 hospital admissions, and cause some 6,000 cases of acute liver failure and 150 deaths annually.