The ClC-1 chloride channel inhibitor NMD670 improves skeletal muscle function in rat models and patients with myasthenia gravis.

Skov M, Ruijs TQ, Grønnebæk TS, Skals M, Riisager A, Winther JB, Dybdahl KLT, Findsen A, Morgen JJ, Huus N, Broch-Lips M, Nielsen OB, de Cuba CMKE, Heuberger JAAC, de Kam ML, Tannemaat M, Verschuuren JJGM, Knutsen LJS, Kelly NM, Jensen KG, Arnold WD, Burghes AH, Olesen C, Bold J, Petersen TK, Quiroz JA, Hutchison J, Chin ER, Groeneveld GJ, Pedersen TH

Myasthenia gravis (MG) is a neuromuscular disease that results in compromised transmission of electrical signals at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) from motor neurons to skeletal muscle fibers. As a result, patients with MG have reduced skeletal muscle function and present with symptoms of severe muscle weakness and fatigue. ClC-1 is a skeletal muscle specific chloride (Cl) ion channel that plays important roles in regulating neuromuscular transmission and muscle fiber excitability during intense exercise. Here, we show that partial inhibition of ClC-1 with an orally bioavailable small molecule (NMD670) can restore muscle function in rat models of MG and in patients with MG. In severely affected MG rats, ClC-1 inhibition enhanced neuromuscular transmission, restored muscle function, and improved mobility after both single and prolonged administrations of NMD670. On this basis, NMD670 was progressed through nonclinical safety pharmacology and toxicology studies, leading to approval for testing in clinical studies. After successfully completing phase 1 single ascending dose in healthy volunteers, NMD670 was tested in patients with MG in a randomized, placebo-controlled, single-dose, three-way crossover clinical trial. The clinical trial evaluated safety, pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of NMD670 in 12 patients with mild MG. NMD670 had a favorable safety profile and led to clinically relevant improvements in the quantitative myasthenia gravis (QMG) total score. This translational study spanning from single muscle fiber recordings to patients provides proof of mechanism for ClC-1 inhibition as a potential therapeutic approach in MG and supports further development of NMD670.