Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) is a well recognised stimulator of tissue fibrosis. Peripheral 5-HT is mainly produced by enterochromaffin cells and stored in platelets. Upon vascular damage, platelets become activated and release 5-HT, resulting in increased local concentrations. Such dysregulated 5-HT activity leads to fibrosis. Resent research has revealed that peripheral 5-HT2B receptors are upregulated in fibrotic tissue, studying e.g. dermal fibroblasts from systemic sclerosis patients. Activation of the 5-HT2B receptor on fibroblasts results in myofibroblast differentiation and activation, increased TGF-β activity, excessive extracellular matrix synthesis and eventually fibrosis, which clearly demonstrates the pathogenic link.
AnaMar develops 5-HT2B receptor antagonists for the treatment of a broad range of fibrotic disorders. This new treatment approach targets the extracellular matrix producing myofibroblast and the TGF-β pathway, thereby preventing fibrosis. The compounds have shown potential to halt and reverse the progression of fibrosis in different tissues and could potentially be used as monotherapy or in combination treatments. The scientific concept has been validated in preclinical studies, where halted progression and reversal of fibrosis have been demonstrated in several fibrotic tissues. This implies use in e.g. dermal, lung, liver and cardiac fibrosis.