Chronic Kidney Disease


DM199 has the potential to offer therapeutic benefits for CKD patients. The KLK1 protein plays a vital role in normal kidney function, and BK and BK receptors for producing nitric oxide and prostacyclin which are critical for kidney health and integrity. Patients with moderate to severe CKD often excrete abnormally low levels of KLK1 in their urine, leading to the hypothesis that this KLK1 deficit contributes to disease progression. We believe that DM199 may replenish endogenous KLK1 and activate the BK system and production of nitric oxide and prostacyclin that protects the kidney from damage. In fact, DM199 treatment in an animal model of Type 1 diabetes delayed the onset of the disease, attenuated the degree of insulitis (inflammation in the insulin producing islet cells of the pancreas) and improved pancreatic beta cell mass in a dose-dependent manner by increasing T-regs. By providing additional KLK1, DM199 has the following potentially beneficial actions:

  • Improve blood flow to the kidney by restoring proper regulation of blood flow through veins arteries and especially capillaries (vasoregulation);
  • Support the structural integrity of the kidney by reducing scar tissue formation (fibrosis), oxidative stress, and inflammation; and
  • Activate mechanisms that upregulate T-regs, improve insulin sensitization, glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis, and lower blood pressure.

Increasing Blood flow in Brains and Kidneys

Further supporting the hypothesis that an intact KKS is critical for normal kidney function, a series of observational studies published in Immunopharmacology showed the amount of KLK1 released into the urine appears to be inversely correlated with the severity of disease in patients with CKD. Urinary KLK1 excretion was decreased in patients with both mild (not requiring dialysis) and severe (kidney failure/hemodialysis) renal disease compared to controls. The severity of the disease was negatively correlated with KLK1 excretion. Decreases in urinary KLK1 activity was seen especially when the reduction was associated with decreased glomerular filtration rate. We believe DM199 may potentially have advantages over ACEi because it restores already depleted KLK1 levels.

DM199 treatment is intended to directly replenish KLK1 levels, normalizing kidney function. Current treatment options, especially ACEi drugs, only partially restore kidney function and are associated with high-risk side effects. Importantly, it is becoming increasingly clear that part of the beneficial effect of ACEi drugs involves preventing the normal breakdown of BK leading to substantial increases in BK levels throughout the body. While higher BK levels benefit the kidney, ACEi drugs can generate excessive BK where is it not needed, potentially leading to side effects such as persistent cough, angioedema (swelling of skin and tissue) and hyperkalemia (abnormally high potassium levels that can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death). We believe DM199 treatment could allow KLK1 to follow its normal physiological processes and release BK when and where it is needed, avoiding these side effects. Importantly, we believe successful treatment with ACEi in kidney disease requires a fully functional kallikrein kinin system, KLK1 and bradykinin systems, potentially making ACEi drugs less effective in patients with a pre-existing KLK1 deficit.

KLK1 derived from the pancreas of a pig, or porcine KLK1, is currently used to treat CKD in China and Japan. Porcine KLK1 is also used to treat hypertension and retinopathy in Japan, China and Korea. Based on IQVIA data and our estimates, we estimate millions of patients have been treated with porcine KLK1 for CKD, retinopathy and other vascular diseases in Asia. Over 20 clinical papers have been published in the Chinese literature supporting the therapeutic activity in CKD patients of porcine KLK1 given alone or in combination with an ARB or an ACEi. These unblinded studies involve treatment durations ranging from a few weeks up to six months (84% reduction in UAER) and report improvement in kidney disease based on decreased urinary albumin excretion rates and other clinical endpoints of kidney disease.

KLK1 Porcine

There is a significant need for new and alternative treatment strategies for CKD and we believe that the combined results of these studies, which are consistent with our proposed mechanism of action for and preclinical studies of DM199, provide a good rationale for formal clinical development of DM199. We intend to seek approval for worldwide use of DM199 as a novel and ground-breaking therapy for CKD. We believe DM199 could potentially complement the use of ACEi or ARBs to improve kidney functions without increasing the risk for hyperkalemia, chronic cough, angioedema or other related side effects. Less than 30% of patients with CKD are believed to be on optimal dose of ACEi or ARB due in part to risk of hyperkalemia which can lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death. We believe DM199, through the activation of the BK system, may complement the renin-angiotensin system, primarily targeted by ACEi and ARBs. Activation of the BK system may improve the function of the diseased renal system by improving vasodilation and insulin sensitization, as well as blocking fibrosis, inflammation, thrombosis and oxidative stress. A significant potential advantage of DM199 over ACEi/ARB treatments is that hyperkalemia may be less likely with DM199. We anticipate that DM199 will boost KLK1 levels to release physiological levels of BK when and where needed, generating beneficial nitric oxide and prostacyclin while increasing regulatory T cells (T-regs or TREGS) to reduce inflammation. In addition, porcine KLK1 has demonstrated the ability to directly cleave vascular endothelial growth factor (“VEGF”) in laboratory tests using vitreous fluid extracted from human eyes. This may contribute to the efficacy of porcine KLK1 reported in patients with diabetic macular edema. Porcine KLK1 is currently marketed in Japan for this indication.

DM199 Mechanism of Action

To learn more about current CKD study or if you are interested in participating please visit CKD Clinical Trial

For additional information, please see these published papers:

Liu et al. 2017. The kallikrein-kinin system in diabetic kidney disease. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens 26(5): 351-357.

Liu et al. 2016. Exogenous kallikrein protects against diabetic nephropathy. Kidney International 90: 1023-1036.

Maneva-Radicheva et al. 2014. Autoimmune diabetes is suppressed by treatment with recombinant human tissue kallikrein-1. PLOS One 9(9): e107213

Kayashima et al. 2012. Kinins-the kallikrein-kinin system and oxidative stress. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens 21(1): 92-96