NOX enzymes are the main source of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can be beneficial, e.g. in enabling the immune system to attack and kill pathogens. They have roles in normal cellular signalling. However, in various diseases, increases in NOX enzyme activity lead to undesirable increases in ROS production. This leads in turn to increases in the activity of disease-driving signalling pathways as well as direct damage to tissues. Under these circumstances, therapeutic benefit may be achieved by blocking the activity of NOX enzymes in order to suppress ROS production.
Diseases in which ROS have been implicated include diabetes and its complications, such as diabetic nephropathy; fibrotic diseases of the kidney, liver, lungs and skin; cardiovacular diseases including atherosclerosis and heart failure; neurodegenerative diseases; and cancer. Work by many groups of scientists has shown that these diverse disorders involve different variants (isoforms) of the NOX enzyme. Genkyotex is developing targeted NOX inhibitors with specific activity against one or more of these NOX isoforms. These targeted drugs are designed to block the action of the NOX isoforms important to the disease without affecting physiological processes involving other members of the NOX family.