OSEO, the French state innovation agency, has pledged €10.4 million (about $14.3 million) to fund a six-year collaborative program led by Pharnext, focused on developing an early-stage diagnostic for Alzheimer disease (AD) and a corresponding therapeutic Pleodrug™.
The funding will take the form of a €2.7 million grant and €7.7 million loan. The loan will only be repayable if the Dippal (diagnostic précoce et Pléothérapie de la maladie d’Alzheimer) project is successful. Collaborating with Pharnext will be biosystems international, the Bordeaux Center for Memory Resources and Research, the Unviersity Bordeaux Segalen, and Inserm’s epidemiology and biostatistics unit U897.
The Dippal project has three main goals: To develop and validate a prototype multiparameter blood test for the early diagnosis of AD; to discover and develop a Pleodrug™ for the treatment of AD through to the end of Phase II; and to develop a companion diagnostic for monitoring Pleodrug’s effectiveness and determining whether there are subpopulations of responder patients. The prototype diagnostic, theranostic, and Pleodrug will subsequently be licensed out to relevant industry partners for further development and commercialization.
Established in 2007, Pharnext is commercializing its pleotherapy platform, which is based on network pharmacology. The associated discovery engine is designed to identify rational drug combinations known as Pleodrugs, comprising cocktails of low-dose, off-patent drugs that have already been approved for other diseases. Pleodrugs are designed to target different mechanisms within the biological processes associated with a particular disease, Pharnext explains. A number of candidates are currently in development against a range of diseases, including Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, oxaliplatin-induced neuropathy, Charcot disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and polycystic kidney disease.
In June Pharnext inked an exclusive research, development, and marketing agreement with Ipsen for its lead candidate against Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Under the terms of this agreement Pharnext will carry out development of the Pleodrug to the end of Phase II clinical trials. Ipsen will then take over to further the development and commercialization of the drug in Europe, the U.S., China, and certain other territories. Pharnext retains exclusive rights in other key markets.