An area of significant unmet medical need:
- Muscle wasting/atrophy contributes substantially to many disease states and it can lead to significant increases in both morbidity and mortality. Many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, chronic heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and liver cirrhosis are capable of driving muscle loss. This form of muscle loss is often referred to as cachexia
- Loss of muscle tissue, especially when layered over such chronic medical conditions, can be both debilitating and life-threatening. For example, in nearly 20% of all malignant cancers, the metabolic stress that accompanies the inability to sustain sufficient muscle mass is the actual cause of death. In addition, the gradual loss of muscle mass associated with aging, known as sarcopenia, contributes significantly to frailty in the elderly.
- There are currently no satisfactory therapies capable of specifically addressing the loss of muscle associated with these conditions, making this a significant unmet medical need. Rigel believes there are tremendous opportunities for development in this area and currently has several drug discovery programs focused on muscle wasting/atrophy.