Massachusetts General Hospital specialists believe that drug will prevent neurotoxic protein build-up.

QR Pharma is teaming up with researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to investigate whether its clinical-stage Alzheimer disease (AD) drug candidate, Posiphen®, could also represent a potential new treatment for Parkinson disease (PD).

The collaboration will initially evaluate Posiphen in a synuclein-based drug discovery assay developed at the laboratory of Jack Rogers, Ph.D., at MGH’s MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease. The drug will also be tested in animal models of PD and using assays on human clinical samples.

Dr. Rogers’ laboratory is involved in studying iron metabolism in relation to disease processes such as Alzheimer disease and anaemia. He claims initial observations suggest that Posiphen may have a beneficial therapeutic effect in PD by lowering the accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain.

“An inter-relationship exists between the Parksinon disease causative protein, α-synuclein, and the Alzheimer amyloid precursor protein,” Dr. Rogers explains. “We will pursue Posiphen, a well-tolerated inhibitor of APP translation and amyloid burden, which also inhibits a-synuclein expression in cultured neural cells. Since α-synuclein mediates neurotoxicity in PD, we will test if Posiphen exerts therapeutic action by acting as an inhibitor of α-synuclein expression in vivo.”

QR Pharma was founded in 2008 to develop drugs for the treatment of AD. The company’s two lead compounds, Posiphen and Bisnorcymserine® (BNC), are both in early clinical development. QR Pharma says the two drugs exhibit very distinct characteristics. As a result Posiphen is in development primarily for the treatment of mild cognitive impairment in early AD, while BNC is being developed to treat late and advanced AD.

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