Stromal cell-Derived Factor-1 (SDF-1) is a naturally-occurring chemokine that is over-expressed in response to tissue injury. SDF-1 is a strong chemo-attractant of stem cells and progenitor cells that promote tissue preservation and increased and sustained healing of wounded tissue. SDF-1 induction stimulates a number of protective anti-inflammatory pathways, causes the down regulation of pro-inflammatory mediators, and can prevent cell death. Furthermore, SDF-1 recruits stem cells to the site of tissue damage, which promotes tissue preservation and blood vessel development.
SDF-1 stimulates the natural healing process by recruiting endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) to the site of injury to induce neovascularization and angiogenesis. This is a critical element of healing, as sustained vessel formation is necessary for adult tissue to become fully re-vascularized, particularly after ischemia. A unique aspect of wound healing in adult tissue is that regeneration is generally driven by localized tissue trauma, such local release of chemokines. SDF-1 has been shown to mobilize and recruit EPCs to injured tissue sites and promotes permanent EPC engraftment. Unfortunately, natural SDF-1 expression lasts for less than a week, and therefore the induced stem cell homing signals it creates quickly fades.
An extensive body of research has demonstrated that increasing transient SDF-1 expression post-tissue injury promotes tissue repair after acute organ injury by preventing cell death and recruiting stem cells to the damaged region. Recent articles from several laboratories have demonstrated SDF-1 therapeutic potential for treatment of stroke, wound management, diabetes, peripheral artery disease, critical limb ischemia, ischemic kidney disease, and spinal cord repair. The tissue-preserving and reparative effects of SDF-1 led Juventas to develop potential therapies utilizing SDF-1 to treat ischemic cardiovascular disease, peripheral artery disease and hard-to-heal wounds. Juventas has demonstrated that therapeutic interventions which prolong or re-establish the ability of SDF-1 to stimulate the stem cell homing process and activate tissue protective mechanisms may be beneficial for patients that have suffered tissue damage, such as after a heart attack.
Juventas' lead product JVS-100 is an injectable non-viral DNA-plasmid which encodes for SDF-1 and provides for an alternative to traditional engineered cell therapies.