Acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS is a severe, life-threatening medical condition characterised by widespread inflammation in the lungs, with a 35-45% case mortality rate and no current proven effective pharmacological treatment. More people die from ARDS than from either breast or prostate cancer.  

Exvastat is developing a novel treatment for ARDS based on the previously unknown effects of an established drug.  The interest to investigate the drug’s potential in ARDS was stimulated by a case study reported by Vrije University Medical Centre in Amsterdam, where its off-label use was associated with a dramatic improvement in the symptoms of a patient with an ARDS-like condition. Administration was associated with a significant reduction in the patient’s lung oedema, a key factor in the morbidity and mortality associated with ARDS. Investigative work on this unexpected finding conducted at the Institute for Cardiovascular Research, Vrije University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, resulted in the discovery of a novel mechanism of action that is believed to be cause of the observed significant beneficial effect on the integrity of the pulmonary endothelium.

Exvastat was founded in Cambridge by Dr David Cavalla (an experienced pharma executive with a strong background in the development of re-profiled medicines), Dr Charlotte Summers, (University Lecturer in Intensive Care Medicine in Cambridge) and Andy McElroy (CEO of the pharma development CRO, TRN). Exvastat has licensed the IP arising from Vrije University’s innovative work to develop the new treatment and to take the programme into the clinic.

Exvastat started clinical development in November 2017.

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