A new treatment for the progressive muscle weakening disease Myasthenia Gravis iscurrently undergoing safety studies in humans.

Developed by Cytokinetics, the experimental drug CK-2017357 is a skeletal muscletroponin activator. CK-2017357 activates the fast skeletal troponin complex by increasing itssensitivity to calcium, leading to an increase in skeletal muscle force.

This mechanism of action has shown its potential to treat diseases associated with ageing,muscle wasting or neuromuscular dysfunction.

Skeletal muscle contractility is driven by the sarcomere, the fundamental unit of skeletalmuscle contraction. It is a highly ordered cytoskeletal structure composed of skeletal musclemyosin, the cytoskeletal motor that is directly responsible for converting chemical energy intomechanical force, actin, and a set of regulatory proteins, troponins and tropomyosin, whichmake the actin-myosin interaction dependent on changes in intracellular calcium levels.

Myasthenia Gravis is a chronic disease that commonly strikes people aged between 40 and70. It is an autoimmune disease wherein the body's immune cells attack its own tissues.

The attack occurs at the junction between nerve and muscle though its causes are stillunclear. Researchers believe that viruses or bacteria might be triggering the autoimmuneresponse. The thymus gland also sometimes seems to play a role in the disease.

The symptoms Myasthenia Gravis include fatigue and weakness of voluntary muscles,partial paralysis of eye movements, double vision, droopy eyelids, and weakness and fatiguein neck and jaws with problems in chewing, swallowing and holding up the head.

As the disease progresses, weakness fluctuates each day but tends to spread and progressover the course of a few years, especially if untreated. Muscle wasting, fatigue and lossof mobility can cause an array of problems ranging from decreased quality of life to life-threatening complications.

By directly improving skeletal muscle function, a small molecule activator of the skeletalsarcomere may potentially enhance physical performance and quality of life in agingpatients, Cytokinetics said in a press release.