Small Molecule Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks tissues in the joints. The condition causes pain, swelling, stiffness and damage to the joints, making it hard to move and reducing quality of life. No cure for rheumatoid arthritis currently exists. The investigators are developing a drug that, when applied to the skin, blocks the production of a chemical called glutamate, which is thought to contribute to joint pain and swelling. This treatment can relieve pain for 24 hours or more. The aim of the project is to continue preparing the drug to make it available for testing in human clinical trials.

Scientific Synopsis

Kemmx Corp. is developing 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine (DON) as a topical analgesic for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. The investigator has discovered that DON can block glutamate production in arthritic sensory nerves of the skin and locally produce pain relief that lasts for 24 hours or more.

Kemmx will continue research and development on topical formulation, drug stability and the analgesic dose response for DON. The outcome of the above objectives will allow the company to pursue pharmacokinetic and toxicology studies, an Investigational New Drug (IND) filing with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and phase I clinical trials for DON. The investigator’s goal is to receive FDA approval and enter clinical trials with a highly innovative topical analgesic for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers.

Lead Collaborator

Kemmx Corp., Sapulpa, Oklahoma
Kenneth Miller, Ph.D.

Public Health Impact

Kemmx Corp. is developing 6-diazo-5-oxo-L-norleucine as a topically applied pain reliever for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. A partnership between Kemmx and NIH will help bring forward the drug for FDA approval.


Work on this project is complete.

Project Details

  • Synthesis of non-Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) material
  • IND-directed toxicology