Azevan is initially developing drugs that block the effects of arginine vasopressin (AVP), a naturally occurring chemical released as a neurotransmitter in the brain and as neurohormone in the blood stream. A growing body of evidence has demonstrated that AVP plays a substantive role in neurobiology, particularly in the context of adaptations to chronic stress.
AVP exerts its effects on physiology and behavior by binding to specific G protein-coupled receptors in the central nervous system and certain peripheral tissues/sites. Three distinct AVP receptor subtypes have been identified -- V1a (or V1), V1b (or V3), and V2. V1a is the predominant AVP receptor found throughout the limbic system and cortex of the brain, while the V1b receptor is also located in limbic system and the pituitary gland. The V1a receptor also is expressed in the smooth muscle of blood vessels, uterus, and heart muscle. This distribution of receptors is consistent with the central role of AVP signaling in the physiology of stress and stress-related illness. V2 receptors are located on the collecting ducts of nephrons in the kidney and are a target for newer therapeutic approaches to the treatment of CHF.
Given the biological spectrum of AVP effects and its multiple receptors, it is not surprising to find that AVP has a causal or secondary role in a host of conditions. Different AVP receptor antagonists have been used by the scientific community and pharmaceutical industry in animal models and clinical trials that show efficacy in diseases that include anxiety, depression, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.