Licopid® (or Lycopid) is the latest generation immunomodulator containing a complete synthetic analog of natural peptidoglycan (GMDP or glucosaminyl muramyl dipeptide), which is the minimum biologically active repeating fragment of the bacterial cell wall structure. Once in the body, Lycopid® mimics the natural process of detecting fragments of peptidoglycan bacteria. Thus, the effect of the drug is as close as possible to the process of natural immunoregulation, realized in the body under the influence of pathogenic bacteria.
The anticancer drug Blastolizin, which was created by I. Bogdanov a Bulgarian scientist in the 1960s, based on ideas about the importance of lactic acid products in the prevention of cancer, was a basis for the creation of Licopid®. The study of the biological activity of blastolizin and the definition of its chemical structure at the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the USSR Academy of Sciences led to the identification of GMDP and to the synthesis of extensive series of derivatives of muramyl dipeptide (MDP). It took scientists almost 10 years to test and research various MDP analogues. Only in 1989 did the development of GMDP as a medicine begin. GMDP was first synthesized in 1989 by a group of scientists of the Shemyakin and Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry under the leadership of V.T. Ivanov and T.A. Andronova. In 1993-1995, under the supervision of T.M. Andronova an industrial method of the GMDP production was developed. It became clear that GMDP, which would later become the active ingredient of Licopid®, successfully combined biological activity and a good safety profile (low pyrogenicity and toxicity). Preclinical and clinical studies of Lycopid® (GMDP) were conducted in the UK (Toxicol Laboratories Ltd, The Royal Masonic Hospital), in Australia (UNSW Department of Surgery and Department of Oncology, The St. George Hospital), in Latvia (Latvian Institute of Bioorganic Synthesis) and in Russia, where the main research was conducted at the Institute of Immunology of the FMBA of the Russian Federation.
Licopid® is perhaps one of the most vivid examples of how a discovery, supported by many years of comprehensive scientific research, can serve for the benefit of the human. The drug increases the functional activity of the “main” cells of the innate immune system, professional “eaters” of foreign substances – phagocytes. Licopid® enhances their presentation of antigens, proliferation of T- and B-lymphocytes; it increases the synthesis of specific antibodies and helps to normalize the balance of Th1/Th2 lymphocytes towards the prevalence of Th1. Lycopid® (GMDP) stimulates leukopoiesis and the restoration of granulocyte number by activating the production of the colony-stimulating factors.
GMDP also demonstrates other useful properties obtained in experimental studies: antitumor and antimetastatic effects and adjuvant properties (increased antibody production during immunization, which is especially important when introducing killed or “weakened” antigens). These are the new promising areas of scientific research for the future.