Humans Make Natural Anti-Inflammatory Steroids

February 1, 2011

Scientists have discovered naturally present anti-inflammatory steroids in humans.

Scientists have discovered naturally present anti-inflammatory steroids in humans.

The findings appear in a paper titled, "Novel components of the human metabolome: the identification, characterization and anti-inflammatory activity of two 5-androstene tetrols," in the the journal Steroids.

Scientists from Harbor BioSciences, Inc, first identified these tetrols as natural steroids and pre-clinical studies indicated the usefulness of these compounds in treating inflammation-driven diseases including arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and COPD.

Harbor BioSciences, Inc., is a biopharmaceutical company that develops novel therapeutics for the treatment of cancer, and metabolic and inflammatory diseases.

The paper describes 5-androstene tetrols metabolites of DHEA that have anti-inflammatory activity and are found naturally at very low concentrations in humans. Unlike most natural steroids, the tetrols are orally bioavailable and do not undergo extensive metabolism. Tests in animal models show that they have anti-inflammatory activity similar to the commonly prescribed glucocorticoid steroids, but do not appear to have any of the deleterious side effects that frequently accompany glucocorticoid use such as bone loss, immunosuppression, hyperglycemia, glaucoma, cataracts, and cognitive disorders. These molecules do not appear to cause anabolic or estrogenic effects and are not toxic in studies to date.

Harbor BioSciences has been issued several patents in the US and Australia covering these compounds with additional patents pending in Europe and Canada. The patents cover formulations, methods of use, and solid-state forms of the tetrols.

James M. Frincke, PhD, Harbor BioSciences chief executive officer, said, in a statement, "The discoveries reported by company scientists are representative of the untapped wealth of pharmaceutical compounds in Harbor BioSciences' proprietary steroid platform. Because these molecules occur naturally in humans, they have the potential for development as either pharmaceuticals or nutritional supplements. We believe that the profiles of these steroids in combination with their natural oral bioavailability make them ideal candidates to treat inflammation in a broad spectrum of diseases such arthritis, COPD, and type 2 diabetes."

Harbor BioSciences has two product candidates recently in clinical trials: Apoptone for patients with late-stage prostate cancer; and Triolex for obese type 2 diabetes mellitus patients.

Source: Harbor BioSciences--Is this information critical to understanding inflammatory diseases? Leave a comment.