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May 15, 2012

ALS Institute, Neurotune to Evaluate Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Therapeutic Candidate

  • The ALS Therapy Development Institute and Neurotune established a collaboration to evaluate one of the latter’s neuromuscular diseases candidates in an ALS disease model. ALS is associated with motor neurons and their axons becoming disconnected from muscle, and Neurotune has identified a class of compounds designed to maintain neuromuscular junction strength and stability.

    Switzerland-based Neurotune is developing a pipeline of drugs that act to modulate connections between nerve cells and their target cells, for the treatment of nervous system disorders including sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass and strength) and chronic pain.

    The firm’s sarcopenia program hinges on modulating the neurotrypsin-agrin system, an imbalance that is believed to represent a key factor in sarcopenia. Neurotune is developing both sarcopenia diagnostic and therapeutic candidates, and holds relevant neurotrypsin- and agrin-related IP. In March the firm launched NTCAF ELISA, which it claims is the first ELISA-based diagnostic assay for sarcopenia. Developed in collaboration with MicroCoat Biotechnologie through the Eureka-Eurostars program, the biomarker-based assay is designed to identify the 40% or so of patients whose sarcopenia is caused by excessive neurotrypsin activity.

    Neurotune’s therapeutic approach to balancing the neurotrypsin-agrin system is twofold, and hinges on the development of small molecule inhibitors of neurotrypsin activity, and agrin biological mimics that act to strengthen synaptic activity by maintaining neuromuscular junctions and promoting muscle fiber innervations.

    The firm’s clinical-stage neuropathic pain program meanwhile centers on subtype-selective racetam class NMDA receptor antagonists. Lead candidate NT-11624 has completed a Phase II study in AIDS patients with treatment-induced neuropathic pain, and is at the Phase II stage for treating osteoarthritis-related neuropathic pain. A second compound, NT-24336, has demonstrated significant efficacy in animal models of chemotherapy induced neuropathic pain. NT-24336 will be progressed into the clinical initially as a potential treatment for cancer patients suffering iatrogenic neuropathic pain as a result of chemotherapy. 


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