Potential for remyelination in the central nervous system
November 14, 2002
Acorda Therapeutics announced today that it has acquired an exclusive worldwide license from CeNeS plc (LSE: CEN) to its neuregulin products, glial growth factor 2 (GGF2), and neuregulin 2 (NRG2), a class of therapeutic agents that has been demonstrated to promote remyelination in animal studies.
Acorda expects to advance pre-clinical development immediately on GGF2, in preparation for human clinical trials in multiple sclerosis (MS). The earlier stage product, NRG2, has potential applications in MS, spinal cord injury (SCI), Parkinson's disease and chronic heart failure. Acorda will also expand the existing, widespread network of academic collaborators involved in this high-potential area of CNS research.
Ron Cohen, M.D., Acorda's President and CEO said, "This acquisition adds an important new product to our existing remyelination program, which includes the M1 remyelinating monoclonal antibody technology. Together, these technologies give Acorda a dominant position in remyelinating therapeutics. Current MS therapies work by slowing the progression of the disease but do not address the permanent demyelination that leads to the disabilities associated with that condition. Neuregulins act to stimulate the regrowth of myelin, thereby offering an entirely new type of therapeutic agent than ones currently available for MS. The neuregulins also have potential to be therapeutic in other acute or degenerative disorders of the CNS, such as SCI, peripheral neuropathies and Parkinson's disease."
Neuregulin-1 is a gene, the products of which include Glial Growth Factor 2 (GGF2). GGF2 is known to stimulate the growth and differentiation of glial cells, the support cells of the nervous system. These glial cells form the myelin sheath that insulates nerve cells and is essential for their proper functioning. In demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis, the myelin sheath is damaged or lost, leading to loss of nerve impulse conduction and eventually even to the degeneration of nerve fibers. Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that GGF2 can stimulate the cell growth necessary to protect and regenerate damaged myelin sheath. Neuregulins also have been shown to enhance survival and function of both peripheral and CNS nerves, for example, those involved in peripheral neuropathies or Parkinson's disease. In addition, neuregulins have been shown to play a role in synaptic plasticity, which is important for memory. Abnormalities in the neuregulin system have been implicated in the pathogenesis of brain cancers and schizophrenia.
Growth factors are proteins that bind to receptors on the cell surface, with the primary result of activating cellular survival, proliferation and/or differentiation. Many growth factors are quite versatile, stimulating cellular division in numerous different cell types; while others are specific to a particular cell-type.
About Remyelination and Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis currently afflicts approximately 350,000 people in the US. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS), which causes the destruction of myelin, the insulating sheath that surrounds nerve processes. When myelin is destroyed or damaged, the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain is disrupted. Disabilities associated with MS included fatigue, impaired walking ability, spasticity, and impaired bowel and bladder control. Current MS therapies work by slowing the progression of the disease but do not address the permanent demyelination that leads to the disabilities associated with that condition. Demyelination is also a component of other central nervous system disorders, such as spinal cord injury.
About Acorda Therapeutics
Acorda Therapeutics, a privately held biotechnology company, is developing therapies for spinal cord injury (SCI) and related neurological conditions, including multiple sclerosis (MS). The Company's lead product, Fampridine-SR, is in Phase 3 clinical trials for restoring neurological function in chronic SCI and is in Phase 2 trials in MS. Acorda's technology platform also includes a class of human monoclonal antibodies that have been shown to remyelinate the central nervous system in animal models. These antibodies are in preclinical development for multiple sclerosis. Additionally, Acorda is developing protein- and stem cell-based technologies for regeneration and repair of the spinal cord and brain. For further information please visit www.acorda.com.
CeNeS is a biopharmaceutical company specialising in the development
and commercialisation of drugs for CNS disorders and pain control. The
company currently markets four products, and has research and development
assets targeting pain, schizophrenia, addiction and sleep disorders. CeNeS
is based in Cambridge, England. For further information please visit http://www.cenes.co.uk.
© 2002, EurekAlert