Industry News

Galleon Pharmaceuticals Wins Awards for Research in Perioperative Sleep Apnea Treatment

Published on

Galleon Pharmaceuticals had two of its scientists’ abstracts recognized among the top scientific abstracts submitted at the 2013 Society of Anesthesia and Sleep Medicine Annual Meeting (SASM) in San Francisco. Galleon is building a drug discovery and development platform that focuses on the pharmaceutical treatment of sleep apnea and related breathing-control disorders. The company’s proprietary platform incorporates advances in neurobiology, molecular physiology, respiratory medicine, and medicinal chemistry. The abstracts it was recognized for involve its lead clinical compound GAL-021.

GAL-021 is the first of a new class of compounds specifically created to treat what the New England Journal of Medicine recently described as the “perioperative sleep apnea epidemic.” The goal for these potential new drugs is to increase patient safety, improve pain control, and reduce hospital costs for sleep apnea patients undergoing surgery.

The first study, under the leadership of Francis Golder, BVSc, PhD, from Galleon, is “GAL-021 Reverses Opioid-Induced Respiratory Depression and Decreases the Severity of Central Sleep Apneas and Obstructive Apneas in Rats.” The abstract won first place in SASM’s category of “Best Basic Research Award.” A second study, under the leadership of Margot Roozekrans, MD, from the University of Leiden Medical Center, Leiden, Netherlands, won second place in SASM’s “Best Clinical Research Awards,” for the abstract “GAL-021, A New Intravenous Selective Potassium-Channel Blocker, Reverses Opioid Induced Respiratory Depression with No Impairment of Opioid Analgesia.”

“These studies represent an important advance toward our goal of drugs to prevent respiratory depression in sleep apnea patients requiring surgery,” says James C. Mannion, PhD, President, CEO, and founder of Galleon, in a release. “The first place basic research award recognizes Galleon’s proprietary models of obstructive and central apnea that have allowed its researchers to rapidly screen compounds for effects against both of the major types of sleep apnea.”

Perioperative care of sleep apnea patients is particularly challenging because these patients’ airways are more prone to collapse, especially when they are given opioids and anesthetics. As a result, patients with apnea have higher rates of respiratory complications (39% vs 18%), increased rates of transfer to the ICU (24% vs 9%), and longer hospital stays than matched controls. The risk of these complications can extend as long as 3 to 5 days post-surgery.

“In light of the increasing numbers of people living with sleep apnea, we agree with the New England Journal of Medicine authors that there is a high unmet need for drugs that help professionals manage respiratory-related complications post-surgery,” Mannion said. “Anesthesiologists are responding very favorably to the product profile for GAL-021, and the drug may one day be a tool to help them manage sleep apnea patients by protecting their airways and restoring breathing control.”