MediciNova Announces Positive Results in NASH Mouse Model With MN-001 and Prepares to Initiate Phase 2 Trial in the U.S.

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| Source: MediciNova, Inc.

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 14, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- MediciNova, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company traded on the NASDAQ Global Market (Nasdaq:MNOV) and the JASDAQ Market of the Tokyo Stock Exchange (Code Number: 4875), today announced positive results from a study that examined the potential clinical efficacy of MN-001 for the treatment of NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis).

MN-001 administered orally once daily (10, 30, and 100 mg/kg) for 3 weeks, was evaluated in the STAM™ (NASH-HCC) mouse model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, as measured by liver biochemistry and histopathology, NAFLD activity score (NAS), and percent of fibrosis and gene expression.

MN-001, in a dose-dependent manner, significantly reduced fibrosis area compared with vehicle (p <0.01) as demonstrated by a reduction in liver hydroxyproline content, supporting MN-001's anti-fibrotic properties. MN-001 significantly improved NAS (p <0.01), and this was most likely attributed to the reduction in lobular inflammation and hepatocyte ballooning, the latter being most notable. Hepatocyte ballooning is thought to be derived from oxidative stress-induced hepatocellular damage and is associated with disease progression of NASH. MN-001, in this animal model, improved NASH pathology by inhibiting hepatocyte damage (p <0.01) and ballooning (p <0.01).

Congruently, MN-001 was shown to down-regulate certain gene expression levels in the liver. At low and mid doses, MN-001 significantly down-regulated MCP-1 (p <0.01) and CCR2 mRNA (p < 0.01) expression levels compared to vehicle. Similarly, MN-001 significantly down-regulated Collagen type 1 (p <0.01) and TIMP-1 mRNA (p <0.001) expression levels at low and mid doses. These gene expression data imply that MN-001 prevents the formation of fibrosis in the NASH model.

Collectively, these results provide compelling evidence that MN-001 warrants further evaluation for the treatment of NASH in humans. Accordingly, MediciNova is preparing to initiate a Phase 2 trial for the treatment of NASH in the U.S.     

About MN-001

MN-001 is a novel, orally bioavailable small molecule compound which demonstrates anti-inflammatory activity in preclinical models. It is postulated that inhibition of the 5-LO pathway exerts anti-inflammatory actions, which has implications in various inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, osteoarthritis, allergy, and asthma (Martinez-Clemente et al 2011). Recently, 5-LO has been postulated as a pathogenic factor in liver injury (Titos et al 2010). MN-001 is thought to exert an inhibitory effect on 5-LO and the 5-LO/LT pathway, which is considered to be a novel target for fatty liver disease.

Previously, MediciNova evaluated MN-001 for its potential clinical efficacy in asthma and completed a Phase 2 study in asthma with positive results. This compound has been exposed to more than 600 subjects. MN-001 was considered generally safe and well-tolerated.

About NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis)

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC), NASH prevalence in the U.S. is 2-5%. An additional 10-20% of Americans have fat in their liver, but no inflammation or liver damage, a condition called "fatty liver." The underlying cause of NASH is unclear, but it most often occurs in persons who are middle-aged and overweight or obese. Many patients with NASH have elevated serum lipids, diabetes or pre-diabetes. Progression of NASH can lead to liver cirrhosis. Liver transplantation is the only treatment for advanced cirrhosis with liver failure. At this time, there is no treatment for NASH.  

About MediciNova

MediciNova, Inc. is a publicly-traded biopharmaceutical company founded upon acquiring and developing novel, small-molecule therapeutics for the treatment of diseases with unmet medical needs with a commercial focus on the U.S. market. MediciNova's current strategy is to focus on MN-166 (ibudilast) for neurological disorders, MN-221 for the treatment of acute exacerbations of asthma, and MN-001 for NASH. MN-166 is being developed in multiple indications, largely through investigator-sponsored trials and outside funding. MediciNova is engaged in strategic partnering and consortium funding discussions to support further development of its programs. For more information on MediciNova, Inc., please visit www.medicinova.com.

Statements in this press release that are not historical in nature constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements regarding the future development and efficacy of MN-001 for the treatment of NASH. These forward-looking statements may be preceded by, followed by or otherwise include the words "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "estimates," "projects," "can," "could," "may," "will," "would," "considering," "planning" or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, risks of obtaining future partner or grant funding for development of MN-001 for the treatment of NASH and risks of raising sufficient capital when needed to fund MediciNova's operations and contribution to clinical development, risks and uncertainties inherent in clinical trials, including the potential cost, expected timing and risks associated with clinical trials designed to meet FDA guidance and the viability of further development considering these factors, product development and commercialization risks, the uncertainty of whether the results of clinical trials will be predictive of results in later stages of product development, the risk of delays or failure to obtain or maintain regulatory approval, risks associated with the reliance on third parties to sponsor and fund clinical trials, risks regarding intellectual property rights in product candidates and the ability to defend and enforce such intellectual property rights, the risk of failure of the third parties upon whom MediciNova relies to conduct its clinical trials and manufacture its product candidates to perform as expected, the risk of increased cost and delays due to delays in the commencement, enrollment, completion or analysis of clinical trials or significant issues regarding the adequacy of clinical trial designs or the execution of clinical trials, and the timing of expected filings with the regulatory authorities, MediciNova's collaborations with third parties, the availability of funds to complete product development plans and MediciNova's ability to obtain third party funding for programs and raise sufficient capital when needed, and the other risks and uncertainties described in MediciNova's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012 and its subsequent periodic reports on Forms 10-Q and 8-K. Undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof. MediciNova disclaims any intent or obligation to revise or update these forward-looking statements.

INVESTOR CONTACT:
Geoff O'Brien
Vice President
MediciNova, Inc.