Selexipag was approved by the United States FDA on December 22, 2015 for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) to delay disease progression and reduce risk of hospitalization. PAH is a relatively rare disease with usually a poor prognosis requiring more treatment options to prolong long-term outcomes. Marketed by Actelion Pharmaceuticals under brand name Uptravi, selexipag and its active metabolite, ACT-333679 (MRE-269), act as agonists of the prostacyclin receptor to increase vasodilation in the pulmonary circulation and decrease elevated pressure in the blood vessels supplying blood to the lungs. Selexipag is a selective prostacyclin (IP, also called PGI2) receptor agonist. The key features of pulmonary arterial hypertension include a decrease in prostacyclin and prostacyclin synthase (enzyme that helps produce prostacyclin) in the lung. Prostacyclin is a potent vasodilator with anti-proliferative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-thrombotic effects; therefore, there is strong rationale for treatment with IP receptor agonists. Selexipag is chemically distinct as it is not PGI2 or a PGI2 analogue and has high selectivity for the IP receptor. It is metabolized by carboxylesterase 1 to yield an active metabolite (ACT-333679) that is approximately 37 times more potent than selexipag. Both selexipag and its metabolite are selective for the IP receptor over other prostanoid receptors. Selexipag is marketed under the brand name UPTRAVI, indicated for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH, WHO Group I) to delay disease progression and reduce the risk of hospitalization for PAH. NCATS
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