Mitochondrially targeted antioxidant compound SkQ1, a plastinquinone, has at this point been moving through the commercial development pipeline for a decade or so. This is par for the course in medicine, sad to say. Engaging with the regulatory system is a slow, slow process, and requires such a large amount of money that organizing the funding itself often requires years of groundwork and initiatives.
SkQ1 has been shown to modestly extend life in laboratory animals, and along the way have also proven to be a useful therapy for a range of inflammatory conditions of the eye. They work by soaking up damaging oxidative molecules where they are produced, in the mitochondria, before they can cause harm to cell structures, particular the nearby mitochondrial DNA. That said, any significant alteration to the net rate of production of oxidative molecules affects the regulation of many cellular activities. A lot of unrelated methods of slowing aging in laboratory species involve either reducing or raising the rate of production of oxidative molecules by mitochondria, for example. So it isn't just a matter of preventing damage, but also of changing cellular behavior. Since it has a demonstrated ability to reduce inflammation, it is probably useful as a treatment for a range of conditions in which inflammation is an important contributing cause.
In any case, it looks like work is progressing past the initial availability of therapies for eye conditions towards formulations of SkQ1 in pill form. A lot of people in the broader longevity advocacy community will be interested in this, but bear in mind that, like all approaches so far shown to slow aging in short-lived animals, it will probably have only much smaller effects in long-lived species such as our own. Reducing the rate of mitochondrial damage caused by oxidative molecules isn't in the same class of expected outcome as repairing that damage or completely preventing its consequences, as is the goal of SENS strategies such as allotopic expression of mitochondrial DNA.
Mitotech S.A., a Luxembourg based clinical stage biotechnology company, announced a successful completion of its pre-clinical program and a start of clinical development for systemic drug Plastomitin based on Mitotech's lead compound SkQ1. SkQ1 is a small molecule engineered specifically for reducing oxidative stress inside mitochondria. Previously, SkQ1 demonstrated efficacy and safety in a double-masked placebo-controlled Phase 2 study of an eye drop formulation - Visomitin - in the U.S.
"This is a very exciting new step for our company. Our strategy assumes parallel development of a variety of formulations for our lead compound SkQ1 targeting a spectrum of age-related disorders. Visomitin had been the most advanced drug in our pipeline and already reached Phase III stage for dry eye indication in the U.S. Ophthalmic field, where we have been pursuing uveitis in addition to dry eye syndrome, remains the forefront area of development for Mitotech. At the same time, this new milestone brings us to clinical level of development for a variety of indications outside ophthalmic field. Mitotech is now in a great position to tackle critical disorders associated with aging such as neurodegenerative and metabolic diseases. Here at Mitotech we feel that we are approaching a major clinical breakthrough that could help many patients around the world."
"SkQ1 has demonstrated efficacy when administered systemically in a whole spectrum of preclinical studies. The very unique mechanism of action of the molecule has proved its benefit in models of rare genetic diseases as well as in models of more common age-related disorders. We see enormous potential in this novel mode of action and our clinical team worked very diligently on getting Plastomitin to its first clinical trial. Mitotech's goal is to progress with this new clinical program as efficiently as we did with the ophthalmic program and to deliver Plastomitin to patients within the next few years."