Phelix Therapeutics has received a $201,665 National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to continue studying Calpain-based treatments for tissue-scarring diseases like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and the liver condition nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

Doctors need better treatments for scarring — or fibrosis — diseases, Phelix said. Current therapies address some of the inflammation that occurs in these disorders, but fail to prevent or reduce scarring.

Phelix is developing therapies that can block cell processes underlying the diseases. It believes that inhibiting a single player in the mix could be a way to treat connected processes like fibrosis and cell injury and death.

Calpains are a family of enzymes called proteases that regulate a wide variety of cell processes. They include inflammation, cell migration and cells sticking to other cells. Calpains break apart structural proteins and are thought to play an important role in protein degradation.