TauRx Pharmaceuticals and Bayer Schering Pharma (BSP) are allying to develop diagnostics for Alzheimer disease (AD) treatment and potentially prevention. Specifically, the companies will work on markers that will aid in the diagnosis and management of tau protein related AD using brain-imaging technology.
TauRx’ technology platform of patented ligands, tau-directed assays, and animal models will be used to optimize the development of ligands. Diagnostic products arising from the collaboration will be developed by Bayer Schering Pharma, whereas compounds with therapeutic potential will be developed by TauRx.
“By bringing together our scientific expertise in tau protein and BSP’s R&D capability in brain-imaging diagnostics, we stand the best possible chance of bringing the combination of tau-based diagnostics and therapeutics to patients as soon as possible,” comments Professor Claude Wischik, executive chairman of TauRx.
“Tau protein aggregation inside nerve cells has a strong correlation with the decline in brain function seen in AD patients. This process, which leads to the formation of tau tangles originally discovered by Alzheimer, is very slow and takes some 20 years of accumulation before symptoms of dementia are seen. The memory critical brain regions are hit first. This means that there is a long window of opportunity during which a tangle prevention treatment could be used to stop the disease process in its tracks,” Wischik points out.
TauRx says that its focus with AD is to develop drugs to treat the underlying pathology of the disease, to modify or halt disease progression, or to prevent it entirely. TauRx’ clinical pipeline includes clinical-stage inhibitors directed against aggregates of tau protein. The company reports that in a large multinational Phase II trial in AD with a molecule from its tau-aggregation inhibitor program, the rate of disease progression was slowed by about 80%. International Phase III trials in individuals with Alzheimer disease and other related disorders are in preparation.