Showing posts with label Suramin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suramin. Show all posts

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Suramin - Why do Clinical Trials in Autism Struggle to be Convincing? And Oxytocin fails in a large trial.


Results from the PaxMedica trial of Suramin

For me, Bumetanide for Autism is now ten-year-old news, for us it has been working since 2012; the next interesting drugs in the pipeline include Suramin and Leucovorin.

It is extremely difficult to trial Suramin at home, or indeed anywhere, and this makes it ever more desirable to many parents.

Leucovorin (calcium folinate) is easy to obtain; you can even buy liquid calcium folinate from iHerb.  You can find out pretty quickly if it produces a profound benefit on your child’s type of autism.

I wish Dr Frye and Professor Ramaekers good luck with the phase 3 trial of Leucovorin.  It certainly works for our adult reader Roger, but not for my 18 year old son, Monty.  Our reader SB’s child recently joined the group of confirmed responders.

After I started writing this post, the results came in of a large (250 children) trial of intranasal oxytocin.  This trial failed to show any benefit, over the placebo, in increasing social behaviors in autistic children. As I have mentioned previously, there is an inherent problem with intranasal oxytocin, the hormone has a very short action, its half-life is 2-6 minutes. It would be much more effective to provide a sustained release of oxytocin, which can indeed be achieved via adding a specific bacterium to the gut. The other problem with intranasal delivery is that you are not supposed to inhale the drug into your lungs, it has to stay in upper part of your nose. How likely is it that parents/children use the spray correctly?  There is even a special dispenser developed for drug delivery to the brain, but did they use it?

In my trials of L. reuteri DSM 17938 it was obvious that the oxytocin improved social behaviors, but I concluded that this was not such a big deal and certainly was not a treatment priority. How would you assess the effect? Very simple, you just count how many times your child is shaking boys’ hands and kissing the girls. I don’t suppose that was the measurement that Duke University used.

Many parents do use Syntocinon nasal spray and this failed trial does not mean they are imagining the effects.  If I was them, I would try L. reuteri DSM 17938 and compare the effect and use whichever is the most beneficial.



Suramin is moving towards its Phase 3 clinical trials and, very unusually, two different companies are trying to commercialize the same drug.  One company is PaxMedica and the other is Kuzani, who are ones that cooperate with Dr Naviaux.

In the background is Bayer, the German giant, who have been making Suramin for a hundred years as a therapy for African sleeping sickness and river blindness.  We are told that making Suramin is quite difficult, it is a large molecule; but if they could make it a century ago, how difficult can it really be?  The reality appears to be that Bayer do not want to supply PaxMedica or Kuzani and so they will have to figure out how to make it.  Suramin is sold as a research chemical, but there seem to be questions about its purity. The very cheap Suramin sold on the internet is very likely to be fake.

Today we will look at the data from the South African trial carried out by PaxMedica and take a look at their patent for their intranasal formulation.

We have heard very positive anecdotal reports from the very small initial trials carried out by Professor Naviaux.  Naviaux himself is very interesting, because even though he is not an autism researcher, he is far more knowledgeable than almost all of them on the subject of autism. If you read his papers, they show a rare global understanding of the subject.  This “big picture” is what you need to understand such a heterogenous condition as autism.

In the PaxMedica trial, 44 children completed the trial, so that should be enough to tell us something insightful about whether this drug is effective.

A recurring problem in all autism trials is how well the placebo performs.  Here again in the Paxmedica data we have a very impressive blue line – the placebo.  It is just salt and water and yet it is nearly as good as the trial drug (the orange line).


A big part of clinical trials is the statistics used to validate them.

Although I do have a mathematical background, I believe in “seeing is believing”.  The data should be crying out to you what it means.  If it is so nuanced that it needs a statistician to prove the effect, there likely is no effect.

In the above chart we want to see a decreasing slope that would possibly level off as the drug achieved its maximum effect.

What we see are two apparently effective therapies, blue and orange. 

The problem is that blue line is just water, with a bit of salt.


Show me the data

What we really want to see are results of each of the 44 participants, not the average.

There are likely groups:

·        Super responders

·        Responders

·        Partial responders

·        Non-responders


No statistician is needed.


The data from the Suramin trial needs to be presented in the kind of form used in the stem cell trial below:-

Since many hundreds of different biological conditions can lead to an autism diagnosis, we really should not expect there to be any unifying therapy that works for everyone.  Indeed, we should perhaps be suspicious of any therapy claimed to work for everyone.

We always get to hear about the super-responders in anecdotal reports.

We heard great things about Memantine/Namenda, but the phase 3 trial was a failure.  We heard great things about Arbaclofen (R-Baclofen), but the phase 3 trial failed. In Romania our reader Dragos is currently seeing great benefits from the standard version of Baclofen (a mixture of R-Baclofen and S-Baclofen).

My son is a super-responder to Bumetanide, but I know that most people are not. However, when I came across the “bumetanide has stopped” working phenomena, it became clear that the situation is more complex than a single one-time evaluation. We know why bumetanide can “stop working” and how to make it “start working again”.  An increase in inflammatory cytokines from the periphery (i.e. outside the brain) further increases the expression of NKCC1 in the brain and negates the effect of bumetanide; reduce the inflammation and bumetanide will start to work again.


Why does the placebo always do well in autism trials?

The assessments used to measure outcome are all observational, they are not blood tests or MRI scans.  They are highly subjective.

It has been suggested that just being in an autism trial improves symptoms of autism.  The parents give more attention to the child and this then skews the results.

My way round this problem in my n=1 trials was always to tell nobody about the new trial I was making and wait for unprompted feedback.  This works really well.



Who chooses the trial goal (the primary endpoint)?

I like the fact that in the Leucovorin trial the goal is speech.  It is a very simple target and relatively easy to measure.

For Bumetanide, I did suggest to the researchers that they used change in IQ as an endpoint.  Nice and simple, start with kids with IQ<70 and then recruit those who have a negative reaction (paradoxical response) to Valium/diazepam.  Then expect an increase in measured IQ of 10 to 40 points.  Then you would have a successful phase 3 trial.    

In many previous trials that ultimately failed, some people did see a benefit, but they were different benefits.  I did get a reader telling me how great Memantine (Namenda) had been for her child, when I asked why she told me that it was the only therapy that had ever solved her child GI problems.  That certainly was never considered as a trial goal/endpoint.

In my trial of Pioglitazone, I read the research about both the mechanism of action and the observed effects listed in the phase 2 trial:

"improvement was observed in social withdrawal, repetitive behaviors, and externalizing behaviors as measured by the Aberrant Behavior Checklist (ABC), Child Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (CY-BOCS), and Repetitive Behavior Scale–Revised (RBS-R)."

I was targeting something entirely different.  Based on the mechanism of action, specifically the reduction of the inflammatory cytokine IL-6, I expected a reduction in summertime raging.  It worked exactly as hoped for. This is the second summer we have used it.

Our reader Sara’s initial assessment of the effect of Pioglitazone is focused on the improvement in sleeping patterns.  This is great, assuming the benefit is maintained, but it is an entirely different benefit.


Was the trial drug actually taken?

I suspect in the bumetanide trial, many parents did not give the trial drug every day, as per their instructions, because the diuresis was too much bother.  I know from reader comments and emails that many parents stop giving bumetanide, even though their child is a responder.  Some schools refuse to allow bumetanide because of the disruption caused by frequent toilet breaks.

Because Suramin is given once a month by infusion, there is 100% certainty that the drug or placebo was actually taken.  This is a big plus.

Was the intranasal oxytocin correctly administered in the recent trial? I doubt it.

The problem with Leucovorin is that in a minority of children is causes aggression, even if you follow Prof Ramaeker’s advice and very slowly increase the dosage.  In the phase 3 trial parents should be informed of this possibility and told to report it and be invited to withdraw from the trial.  If they just stop the therapy to halt the aggression, but their data remains included in the study, the results are invalidated.


Intranasal Suramin

Patents are often a good source of information and they do also tell you something about the people who wrote them.

Here below is PaxMedica's patent for intranasal suramin:-

Compositions and methods for treating central nervous system disorders

These results demonstrate that an antipurinergic agent such as suramin can be delivered intranasally to achieve plasma and brain tissue levels and that variations in the brain tissue to plasma partitioning ratio can be observed. These results demonstrate that an antipurinergic agent such as suramin can be delivered to the brain of a mammal by intranasal (IN) administration. 

The following Table 1 provides the averaged accumulated amount, in mg, of suramin that has penetrated as a function of time

But how can the accumulated level after 6 hours be less than after 5 hours?

The results of the study are also shown graphically in FIG. 1 where the cumulative amount (mg) of drug permeated was plotted versus time in hours. These data demonstrate that Formulation B containing methyl β-cyclodextrin (methyl betadex) provides significantly better penetration, versus Formulations, A , C, and D in the tissue permeation assay. Also, as is seen from a comparison of Formulations A and D, having a higher drug concentration can be advantageous to increasing permeation.


Formulation A - suramin hexa-sodium salt at 100 mg/mL in water (no excipients) Formulation B - suramin hexa-sodium salt at 100 mg/mL in water, with 40% methyl β-cyclodextrin (methyl betadex) Formulation C - suramin hexa-sodium salt at 100 mg/mL in water, with 40% HP (hydroxyl propyl) -cyclodextrin Formulation D - suramin hexa-sodium salt at 160 mg/mL in water (no excipients)


FIG. 7 shows a plot comparing the total percentage of suramin in plasma in mice when administered by intraperitoneal (IP) injection once weekly for 4 weeks (28 days), intranasally (IN) daily for 28 days, intranasally (IN) every other day for 28 days, and intranasally (IN) once per week for 4 weeks (28 days).


FIG. 8 shows a plot comparing the total percentage of suramin in brain tissue in mice when administered by intraperitoneal (IP) injection once weekly for 4 weeks (28 days), intranasally (IN) daily for 28 days, intranasally (IN) every other day for 28 days, and intranasally (IN) once per week for 4 weeks (28 days).


Does anyone think the above chart makes any sense? 


The mice were maintained in group cages (6 mice per cage based on treatment group) in a controlled environment (temperature: 2 1.5 ± 4.5 °C and relative humidity: 35-55%) under a standard 12-hour light/1 2-hour dark lighting cycle (lights on at 06:00). Mice were accommodated to the research facility for approximately a week. Body weights of all mice were recorded for health monitoring purposes.

The mice were divided into the following 5 test groups, with 6 mice per group.

Group 1: Intraperitoneal (IP) injection of suramin, 20 mg/kg, administered weekly to animals beginning at 9 weeks of age and continuing for four weeks (i.e. given at Age Weeks 9 , 10 , 11 and 12). The suramin was formulated in Normal saline solution.

Group 2 : Intraperitoneal (IP) injection of saline, 5 mL/g, administered weekly to animals beginning at 9 weeks of age and continuing for four weeks (i.e. given at Age Weeks 9 , 10 , 11 and 12). This was a control group.

Group 3 : Intranasal (IN) administration of a formulation, described below, of suramin, at a concentration of 100 mg/mL x 6 mL per spray, administered as one spray per nostril, one time per day, (interval of each application is around 2 minutes to ensure absorption) for 28 days (total of 56 sprays over 28 day period) beginning at 9 weeks of age (i.e. given daily during Age Weeks 9 , 10 , 11 and 12).

Group 4 : Intranasal (IN) administration of a formulation, described below, of suramin, at a concentration of 100 mg/mL x 6 mL per spray, administered as one spray per nostril, one time every other day, for 28 days (total of 28 sprays over 28 day period) beginning at 9 weeks of age (i.e. given once every other day during Age Weeks 9 , 10, 11 and 12).

Group 5 : Intranasal (IN) administration of a formulation, described below, of suramin, at a concentration of 100 mg/mL x 6 ml_ per spray, administered as one spray per nostril, one time every week, for 4 weeks (28 days) (total of 8 sprays over 28 day period) beginning at 9 weeks of age (i.e. given once weekly during Age Weeks 9 , 10 , 11 and 12).


This question was posed to me:-

A nasal spray in a human is about 0.1 ml, how do you give a tiny mouse 6 ml per nostril?  Even 0.6 ml looks implausible.



Will Suramin pass a phase 3 trial?  I think if it is trialed on a random group of 400 young people with moderate or severe autism, it will very likely fail.

Professor Naviaux believes Suramin may be a unifying therapy, one that works in all autism.  The results from the PaxMedica study do not support this.

PaxMedica has the data showing the individual results.  Are there super-responders? Are there non-responders? Does Suramin perhaps make some people's autism worse?  All we can see is the average response, which is marginally better than the placebo; not what we expected after seeing the initial study.

Expecting Suramin to work well for everyone is raising the bar too high.  Try and identify markers for the responders and super-responders and then limit the phase 3 trial to these people.

Is intranasal delivery of Suramin going to achieve a therapeutic level inside the human brain?  Hopefully yes, but it may not work.

Is long term use of Suramin going to be safe? Will it require ever-increasing doses? Nobody knows, and note that safety was the original concern when Suramin’s use was proposed by Naviaux.

Intranasal administration has the best chance of being totally safe.  Spend a little extra money on the clever dispenser covered in this old post, that keeps 100% of the drug in the right place.


Maybe get someone other than a lawyer, to proof read your patent.



Sunday 11 July 2021

Leaky ATP from either Mitochondria or Neurons in Fragile X and Autism



For leaky ATP, Popeye might want to try Dexpramipexole and

Suramin, or even the already approved Mirapex

If you are old enough to be a parent, you will have encountered problems with some kind of leak.  A leaky roof, a leaky pipe, a leaky washing machine, an air-conditioning unit... The list goes on, the older you get.

I have been preoccupied by fixing a leak recently.  We have a large roof terrace and, in the winter, water started leaking from the ceiling in the floor below.  I improvised a system to catch all the water, but still I had to find the source of the leak.

I did finally find the source of the problem and most importantly without digging up 95% of the terrace.  Now I have to put the 5% back together again.

Leaks are often extremely difficult to locate, because water always finds the easiest path and the dripping you see might have originated from a leak far away.  Nobody wants to fix leaks, because it can be a pretty thankless task and you can cause plenty of damage in the process, without solving the problem.  So, as with fixing autism, I ended up doing much of the fixing myself.  The damage had actually been there since the house was built, hidden under ceramic tiles.

I recently read about leaky ATP in Fragile-X, where ATP leaks from the mitochondria into the cell.

This fits neatly into Professor Naviaux’s belief that ATP is leaking from the cell into the extracellular space, as the basis for his concept of the cell danger response, as a unifying and treatable feature of most autism.

Sounds complicated?

Just think of it as bunch of leaks you need to fix.


 What is ATP? 

ATP has many functions:- 

·        It is the fuel your cells need to function.

·        It is a signalling molecule within a cell and importantly between different cells.

·        It is used to make your DNA



Each cell in your brain contains many mitochondria and these are where ATP is produced. Mitochondria die and are replaced, whereas if the host brain cell dies, it is lost forever. Cell death in the brain is bad news.

The ATP – ADP Cycle 

You can think of ATP as a fully charged battery.  Once the energy has been used up the flat battery is called ADP and it goes back for recharging in the mitochondria.  It is a continuous cycle.

ADP is powered back to ATP through the process of releasing the chemical energy available in food; this is constantly performed via aerobic respiration in the mitochondria. This process is also called OXPHOS and has been covered in previous posts.  In most mitochondrial disease the problem is that one of the four mitochondrial enzyme complexes is insufficient; this means that the ATP-ADP cycle is restricted.  There is then insufficient energy to power the brain in times of peak energy requirement.  This can cause loss of myelination and ultimately cell death.



ATP in Fragile X

It looks like in Fragile X the mitochondria in the brain do not work properly. ATP is leaking from the mitochondria and this stops synapses from maturing. 

A synapse is just the junction between one neuron and its neighbour.

The immature synapse manifests as autistic behavior.  When you plug the leak with Dexpramipexole, a drug trialed for ALS and now asthma, dendritic spines mature and autistic behavior is reduced.

To what extent this leakage occurs in idiopathic autism is unknown, but we know that impaired dendritic spine formation/morphology is a key feature of most autism and that it can be modified, although the sooner you start the better the result will be.

It looks to me that some people diagnosed with mitochondrial disease based on blood tests may actually have leaking ATP which then affects metabolic pathways and shows up with odd blood test results, that is then misdiagnosed as mitochondrial disease.  Note that many people diagnosed with mitochondrial disease show no response to therapy.

In Professor Naviaux’s theory, the ATP leak is from the cell membrane, like the outer wall of the cell.  He thinks that ATP is leaking and this then sends a false danger signal to the rest of your brain.  This is his Cell Danger Response (CDR).  Because the brain thinks it is under attack it is set in a permanent pro-inflammatory state, this gets in the way of basic functions the developing brain needs to complete.  This might explain why the microglia (the brain’s immune cells) are found to be permanently activated in autism; this then means that they do not carry out their regular brain housekeeping activities very well, like pruning synapses.

Naviaux wants to plug the leaks in the cell wall using Suramin, which is an old anti-parasite drug made by Bayer, the giant German company.

The link between the Fragile X research from Yale and Naviaux’s work at UCSD is that ATP needs to be kept in the right place for the brain to function correctly.

Leaky ATP will cause you big problems.



Now for the supporting research


Leaky ATP in Fragile X


Fragile X syndrome traits may stem from leaky mitochondria

The persistent leak influences which metabolic pathway the cell uses to generate energy, the team discovered by using a technique called mass spectrometry. For example, fragile X neurons produce more enzymes associated with glycolysis — a pathway commonly used by immature cells — than do typical neurons. Previous studies have shown altered mitochondrial metabolism in people with other forms of autism2.

Adding dexpramipexole to the cells of fragile X mice decreased production of lactate dehydrogenase and other enzymes linked to glycolysis, suggesting that closing the leak causes the neurons to start to use different, more mature metabolic pathways.

Giving injections of dexpramipexole to fragile X model mice lessened their hyperactivity, repetitive behaviors and excessive grooming — traits that are reminiscent of those seen in people with autism and in those with fragile X syndrome. Mice that received the dexpramipexole injections also had neurons with more mature dendritic spines and decreased levels of protein synthesis.

Dexpramipexole has been tested in people with the neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and found safe, but it is unclear how it would affect young people if taken over sustained periods of time.


ATP Synthase c-Subunit Leak Causes Aberrant Cellular Metabolism in Fragile X Syndrome

Loss of the gene (Fmr1) encoding Fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP) causes increased mRNA translation and aberrant synaptic development. We find neurons of the Fmr1-/y mouse have a mitochondrial inner membrane leak contributing to a "leak metabolism." In human Fragile X syndrome (FXS) fibroblasts and in Fmr1-/y mouse neurons, closure of the ATP synthase leak channel by mild depletion of its c-subunit or pharmacological inhibition normalizes stimulus-induced and constitutive mRNA translation rate, decreases lactate and key glycolytic and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzyme levels, and triggers synapse maturation. FMRP regulates leak closure in wild-type (WT), but not FX synapses, by stimulus-dependent ATP synthase β subunit translation; this increases the ratio of ATP synthase enzyme to its c-subunit, enhancing ATP production efficiency and synaptic growth. In contrast, in FXS, inability to close developmental c-subunit leak prevents stimulus-dependent synaptic maturation. Therefore, ATP synthase c-subunit leak closure encourages development and attenuates autistic behaviors.



·        ATP synthase c-subunit leak in Fragile X causes aberrant metabolism

·        Changes in ATP synthase component stoichiometry regulate protein synthesis rate

·        Inhibition of the leak normalizes synaptic spine morphology and Fragile X behavior


In Brief

Lack of FMRP in Fragile X neurons is associated with a leak in the ATP synthase, the blockade of which normalizes cellular and behavioral disease phenotypes.


Now they fix the leak using Dexpramipexole (Dex) and cyclosporine A (CsA)



We have found that the mitochondrial inner membrane leak of FX neurons and cells is caused by abnormal levels of ATP synthase c-subunit. The c-subunit leak causes persistence of a mitochondrial leak metabolic phenotype characterized by high glycolytic flux, high lactate levels, and increased levels of glycolytic and TCA enzymes. The leak also aberrantly elevates overall and specific protein synthesis; a decrease in c-subunit level or pharmacological inhibition of the ATP synthase leak reduces protein synthesis rates and decreases the levels of leak metabolism enzymes. In Fmr1/y synapses, stimulation-dependent protein synthesis is absent. This is correlated with a lack of stimulus induced EF2 phosphorylation and a lack of synthesis of the ATP synthase b-subunit. These abnormalities are readily reversed by ATP synthase leak inhibitors, suggesting that leak closure is required for the ATP-dependent phosphorylation of EF2 adjacent to mitochondria. EF2 phosphorylation may regulate the change in subsets of proteins synthesized and may be correlated with- the overabundant synthesis of enzymes supporting a high flux glycolytic/TCA cycle ‘‘leak’’ metabolism indicative of metabolic immaturity. Consistent with the hypothesis that the c-subunit leak is also a major cause of synapse immaturity, we find that inhibition of the ATP synthase leak allows the maturation of synapses and normalizes autistic behaviors.




Closing Leaky Mitochondria Halts Behavioral Problems in Fragile X, Study Suggests

“In Fragile X neurons, the synapses fail to mature during development. The synapses remain in an immature state and this seems to be related to their immature metabolism,” she said.

The investigators tested whether closing the leak to boost the efficiency of ATP production would lessen behavioral abnormalities.

They first saw that nerve cells treated with an ATP synthase inhibitor named dexpramipexole (Dex) — a form of the common Parkinson’s therapy Mirapex ER (pramipexole) and previously tested as a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — increased the levels of ATP.

Two-day treatment with Dex also reversed autistic-like behaviors, namely excessive time spent grooming and compulsive shredding of the animals’ nests. The treatment also reduced hyperactivate behaviors.

“We find that inhibition of the ATP synthase leak allows for the maturation of synapses and normalizes autistic behaviors in a mouse model of [fragile X],” the team wrote.

Jonas and her team now intend to further test the effectiveness of this and other leak-closing therapies for improving learning.

The lab is conducting a study assessing the role of leaky membranes in memory formation. Findings could pave the way for novel therapeutics for fragile X and autism, as well as for Alzheimer’s disease.




Dr Naviaux and Suramin for Autism


I have covered Suramin in previous posts.  There is a presentation below by Prof Naviaux that is for lay people, it is good to hear directly from the man himself.


Autism Treatment, the cell danger response and the SAT1 trial

In essence he says that when cells are stressed, they leak ATP and this creates the cell danger response.  If you have suramin in your bloodstream, it plugs the ATP channels and stops it leaking out of the cell and so blocks the cell danger response.

It is the cell danger response that is causing the symptoms we see as autism.



Who to call to fix an ATP leak?

If it is a case of Fragile X, there looks to be potential solution, but you will definitely not find it at your local doctor’s office.

For a mouse with Fragile X, you might choose Dexpramipexole.  Dexpramipexole was developed as a therapy for ALS (motor neuron disease), but failed in phase 3 trials and is now being developed for asthma.

For a human, the logical place to start would be the already approved Mirapex, which is currently used to treat Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome.

Mirapex - a miracle for Fragile X?

Clearly somebody should make a clinical trial of the existing drug.

I expect what will happen is that the Yale researchers will come up will a new drug that can be patented as a novel therapy for Fragile X.  This way they get to make some money, but a decade is wasted.

Is leaky ATP from mitochondria an issue in broader autism, beyond Fragile X? That is still unknown, but the Yale researchers seem to think their work has potential application in both autism and Alzheimer’s.

In the case of broader autism, Dr Naviaux and his partner Kuzani have some competition from Paxmedica.  Both groups seek to monetize Dr Naviaux’s published research.

It looks like the German giant Bayer does not want to help either group.  Instead of just tapping into Bayer’s existing production of Suramin, Kuzani and Paxmedica will have to figure out how to produce Suramin.

This all helps us to understand why there still are no approved therapies for core Autism or indeed Fragile X and yet there is a mountain of research.  Too many barriers and interests to overcome.

If you want to fix leaky ATP any time soon, you will be doing it mainly by yourself.  This has been my experience with most other kinds of leak!



Saturday 5 December 2020

Suramin in China, where things can move fast – blocking Enterovirus-71 rather than treating Autism

The new Chinese and old Colonial, side by side in central Shanghai


I do not speak Chinese, but fortunately Google does.

I was sent some interesting links to some articles from China about Suramin, the potential autism therapy which many autism parents are eagerly awaiting.  Prepare for a long wait, but hopefully less long in China.

My original post on Suramin for autism can be found  in the link below:-

Suramin, the Purinome and Autism



I have never had a banner appear on my computer trying to sell me a Rolls Royce until today.  This is more proof, if I needed it, of how much China has changed since my first visit there as a teenager.  Back then there were a lot of bicycles; I still remember many were Flying Pigeon brand – not a name you forget. I just looked them up and since 1950, more than 500 million Flying Pigeon bicycles have been made - that is a lot bicycles.

I even went to see a factory still producing steam locomotives in Datong in the 1980s. They gave you a personal certificate of your visit, which I still have somewhere. 

Last year I was again in China and travelled on their ultra-modern high speed trains.  These run on purpose-built tracks, often running to totally new vast railway stations.  The network is massive with 36,000 km (22,000 miles) in total length and trains running at speeds up to 220 mph / 350 km/h.  The ride is perfectly smooth and the tickets are not so expensive.   The old train lines I used many years ago still exist and you can still take the “hard sleeper” to travel long distances overnight for little money, but not quite as cheap as it once was.  


 Things move fast in China, hopefully so will Suramin

Suramin is an approved drug, but it is almost impossible to get hold of, unless you are in a limited number of African countries affected by African Sleeping Sickness and River Blindness.  Suramin is made by the German giant Bayer and the brand name (below) is not very original.


I think the clever idea is the intranasal version now being developed in the US.

But why not just put this old drug from 1916 in a metered pump dispenser, in the same way the Alzheimer’s researchers put insulin in a nasal spray?  In autism, Vasopressin and Oxytocin are just popped into nasal sprays.  A few years in this blog I mentioned Dr Jay Goldstein who was treating people with TRH intranasally (he wrote a great book called Tuning the Brain – I actually bought it).

Tuning the brain eventually got Jay Goldstein into trouble. Though long “retired”, he has just published another book on ME/CFS.  Goldstein also used Ketamine eye drops and nasal spray.

I guess if he would have been among the first put this old Suramin drug in a nasal spray and see what happens. It quite possibly would help ME/CFS, as suggested by Dr Naviaux himself.

We saw in a post in 2014 that Professor Rita Levi-Montalcini had the clever idea of using home-made NGF eye drops to stave off decline in old age.  She was the first one to discover the existence of Nerve Growth factor (NGF). She became the first Nobel laureate to reach the age of 100.  The NGF eye drops did not do her any harm.

Your eyes are part of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and so an ideal entry point to target the brain. For nasal sprays the route to the CNS is via the trigeminal nerves and not much actually gets through (see below).  Due to the blood brain barrier many drugs taken orally cannot reach the brain.


Nose-to-Brain Delivery

The route of transfer of compounds through the nasal respiratory epithelium to the brain is via the trigeminal nerves 

A key advantage of the nose-to-brain route is the possibility of reducing plasma exposure, as has been demonstrated thus eliminating peripheral side effects.

 Simply dissolving the drug molecule in an aqueous phase has been used to administer molecules via the nose-to-brain route. The vast majority of clinical studies, which report pharmacological effects, have involved a solution of the drug in aqueous media delivered using a nasal delivery device

Oxytocin has also been delivered to the brain via the nasal route using a solution with a Cmax of 0.003% of a 10 μg dose being found in the brain. A solution of the human immunodeficiency virus replication inhibitor DB213 delivered the drug to the rat brain with a Cmax that was estimated at no more than 0.007% of the administered dose.

The addition of functional excipients to these solution formulations improves brain delivery via the nasal route. 


It may well be that Rita and Jay got it right by choosing eye drops over a nasal spray. Suramin eye drops? Not as crazy as it may sound.  Perhaps in China?


Back to China

 For several years there has been research looking at treating hand foot and mouth disease using Suramin.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is common in children under five years old, but anyone can get it.

The illness is usually not serious, but it is very contagious. It spreads quickly at schools and day care centres.


Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus family.

Common causes of hand, foot, and mouth disease are:

  • Coxsackievirus A16 is typically the most common cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease in the United States. Other coxsackieviruses can also cause the illness.
  • Coxsackievirus A6 can also cause HFMD and the symptoms may be more severe.
  • Enterovirus 71 (EV-A71) has been associated with cases and outbreaks in East and Southeast Asia. Although very rare, EV-A71 has been associated with more severe diseases, such as encephalitis. 

Enterovirus 71 (EV-A71)

Suramin inhibits EV71 infection


·        Suramin inhibits the proliferation of EV71 virus.

·        Suramin directly blocks the attachment of EV71 virion to host cell.

·        Suramin can be used as a potential clinical therapeutic against EV71 infection.



Enterovirus-71 (EV71) is one of the major causative reagents for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. In particular, EV71 causes severe central nervous system infections and leads to numerous dead cases. Although several inactivated whole-virus vaccines have entered in clinical trials, no antiviral agent has been provided for clinical therapy. In the present work, we screened our compound library and identified that suramin, which has been clinically used to treat variable diseases, could inhibit EV71 proliferation with an IC50 value of 40 μM. We further revealed that suramin could block the attachment of EV71 to host cells to regulate the early stage of EV71 infection, as well as affected other steps of EV71 life cycle. Our results are helpful to understand the mechanism for EV71 life cycle and provide a potential for the usage of an approved drug, suramin, as the antiviral against EV71 infection.



The approved pediatric drug suramin identified as a clinical candidate for the treatment of EV71 infection - Suramin inhibits EV71 infection in vitro and in vivo

 Enterovirus 71 (EV71) causes severe central nervous system infections, leading to cardiopulmonary complications and death in young children. There is an urgent unmet medical need for new pharmaceutical agents to control EV71 infections. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we found that the approved pediatric antiparasitic drug suramin blocked EV71 infectivity by a novel mechanism of action that involves binding of the naphtalentrisulonic acid group of suramin to the viral capsid. Moreover, we demonstrate that when suramin is used in vivo at doses equivalent to or lower than the highest dose already used in humans, it significantly decreased mortality in mice challenged with a lethal dose of EV71 and peak viral load in adult rhesus monkeys. Thus, suramin inhibits EV71 infection by neutralizing virus particles prior to cell attachment. Consequently, these findings identify suramin as a clinical candidate for further development as a therapeutic or prophylactic treatment for severe EV71 infection.



Kangzhi Pharmaceutical has the rights to develop Suramin for hand foot and mouth disease in China and beyond. 


Kangzhi Pharmaceutical has developed a new indication for "Suramin Sodium" and is committed to the development of drugs for hand, foot and mouth disease 

Currently, there are no specific antiviral drugs for enteroviruses in the world, and support and symptomatic treatment are the main ones. Clinically, there is an urgent need to develop specialized drugs to treat patients with hand, foot and mouth disease who have been infected. Now that Kangzhi Pharmaceutical's suramin sodium for injection has been approved for clinical trials, it is undoubtedly a gospel for children with hand-foot-mouth disease and is expected to break the dilemma of treatment of hand-foot-mouth disease.

Kangzhi Pharmaceutical has been focusing on children's health for a long time. Under the guidance of "Children's Health Strategy" and "Excellent Strategy", the company insists on investing about 5% of its annual sales in research and development. In 2013, the company took the lead in establishing a post-doctoral scientific research station with children's drug research and development as the main direction in China, and was recognized as "Hainan Children's Drug Preparation Engineering Technology Research Center" in 2016. In order to solve the problem of no medicine for hand, foot and mouth disease, Kangzhi Pharmaceutical has invested heavily in the research and development of suramin sodium for injection.

 For a long time, the anti-fever drug "Ruizhiqing (Nimesulide)" is Kangzhi Pharmaceutical's leading product in the children's medicine market. The company's revenue accounted for as high as 70% at one time. However, this product had previously suffered from side effects. Controversial, Kangzhi Pharmaceutical has no longer listed this product as a core competitive advantage in its financial report. Instead, it has given key exposure to another long-developed new drug for the treatment of hand, foot and mouth disease. ——Suramin Sodium for Injection.

It is understood that hand, foot and mouth disease is an infectious disease that is generally susceptible to infants and children under 5 years old. It continues to be prevalent at a fixed period every year. There is no specific medicine for targeted treatment. According to the statistics of the my country Center for Disease Control, the number of cases of hand, foot and mouth disease in China in 2018 was 2,533,310.

Obviously, if Kangzhi Pharmaceutical's new hand, foot and mouth disease drug can be successfully listed, it will become a major "cash cow" product of the company. By then, both performance and stock price will be effectively boosted. However, since this product was exposed by Kangzhi Pharmaceutical, the outside world only knows that this product will be "the world's first new medicine for the treatment of hand, foot and mouth disease", but its final market is still far away.

"The company has obtained the approval for the clinical trial of the drug, and the product has successfully completed the phase I clinical trial and will start the phase II clinical trial. If the clinical trial is successful and the marketing authorization is obtained, suramin sodium will become the world's first treatment for hand, foot and mouth. New medicine for disease.” In the 2019 financial report, Kangzhi Pharmaceutical introduced the latest development of suramin sodium.

As early as 2015, after Kangzhi Pharmaceuticals spent 18 million yuan to buy the patented technology of "Institutions and Methods for Treating Viral Diseases" of the Shanghai Pasteur Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and planned to invest 50 million yuan in suramin Subsequent research and development of sodium.

In 2018, after the application for the clinical trial of suramin sodium was submitted, it was quickly reviewed and approved according to the special review route. At that time, Hong Liping, vice chairman and vice president of Kangzhi Pharmaceuticals, said in an interview: "Suramin sodium for injection is approved for clinical trials, which is an important achievement of Kangzhi Pharmaceuticals in the development of new drugs. The company deeply feels the responsibility. With the help of the current national policy to encourage the spring breeze of clinically urgently needed therapeutic drugs, we will actively promote the development of clinical trials of the drug and promote the market of new drugs as soon as possible to help children with hand, foot and mouth disease get rid of the disease as soon as possible.

According to the company's secretary of the board of directors on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the clinical trial of suramin sodium is divided into 3 phases, and only phase 1 has been completed. The time of the clinical trial is uncertain.

It is reported that the new indication of suramin sodium for the treatment of hand, foot and mouth disease developed by Kangzhi Pharmaceutical has previously applied for an international invention patent through the PCT, and has successively obtained invention patent authorization in China, Japan, Singapore and the United States. The new Indonesian patent authorization will help to further leverage the advantages of independent intellectual property rights, promote the research of hand-foot-mouth disease treatment drugs, benefit the world's hand-foot-mouth disease patients, and enhance the core competitiveness of Kangzhi Pharmaceutical.



It looks like there will eventually be at least 3 pharmaceutical companies selling Suramin.

  Bayer (Germany)

  Kangzhi Pharmaceutical (China)

  Paxmedica (USA), or really which ever Big Pharma they sell out to 

This is all good news for autism and hand foot and mouth disease. 

People do not like injections, nor side effects caused by your drug needlessly going everywhere in your body.

The nasal spray, or eye drops, look a good idea for autism and ME/CFS.

Hopefully the Chinese will move fast, like their trains, and bring their Suramin to the market.


In 2008 Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill to bring high speed rail to California.  The total system length would have been approximately 800 miles (1,300 km).  Where are we 12 years later?

The British are no better with their high-speed rail, but it is a very densely populated country. China's new rail lines were not built where the old lines ran. Spain actually has really good high-speed trains, that are not so expensive and a great way to get around the country.

Where are those autism drugs, "fast-tracked" for approval by the FDA? In the same place as Arnie’s model train set (going nowhere fast).