Oral drug is currently in early clinical trials as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

The CHDI Foundation agreed to work with Phytopharm to evaluate the effectiveness of the latter’s drug candidate for Huntington’s (HD). Cogane, an oral neurotrophic factor inducer, will be studied in a preclinical model of the disease.

CHDI will fund this testing through its network of industrial CROs. Studies are expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2010.

Phytopharm says preclinical models have shown Cogane acts to stimulate the release of endogenous neurotrophic factors in the brain, including BDNF, which is decreased in HD patients. Since BDNF can’t be given in oral form, as it doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier and would be degraded in the digestive system, Phytopharm believes Cogane could represent a novel approach to the treatment of HD.

The company is developing Cogane primarily as an oral treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD), with partial funding from the Michael J Fox Foundation. Cogane has been shown to stimulate production of another neurotrophic factor, GDNF. Preclinical trials have demonstrated that the drug helps reverse the loss of dopaminergic neurons characteristic in PD. In April 2009, Phytopharm started a safety, tolerability, and pharmacokinetic study with Cogane in both healthy volunteers and patients with PD.

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