Neurodegenerative diseases are diseases of the nervous system that often progress slowly and are characterized by a loss of mental and physical abilities. The deposition of disease-relevant accumulations of protein in the brain plays an important role in the pathogenesis of many neurodegenerative diseases. Scientists at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU) and the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen have successfully developed a drug candidate that can significantly reduce the formation of these deposits. In the joint spin-off company MODAG GmbH the active substance anle138b is now to be developed up to market maturity to stop diseases such Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Creutzfeld-Jakob in the future. To this effect, MODAG successfully concluded its first round of financing with up to EUR 8 million in participation with the Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH representing the two research institutions LMU and Max Planck Society (MPG).
Often neurodegenerative diseases are a result of protein deposits, which can damage nerve cells. In the case of Parkinson’s, deposits of aggregated synuclein proteins become visible in the brain when viewed under the microscope. Precursors of these deposits, the oligomers, are highly neurotoxic. For humans, this can result in muscle tremors, movement disorders and muscular rigidity. Also wit the Creutzfeld-Jakob disease these disease-causing protein deposits, which are caused by so called prion proteins, are found. Both Professor Dr. Armin Giese, research group leader at the Center for Neuropathology and Prion Research at LMU Munich and Professor Dr. Christian Griesinger, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Department of NMR-based Structural Biology in conjunction with their staff have developed a drug candidate that has prevented the formation of the toxic oligomeric forms of protein in tests with mice having Parkinson’s, thereby delaying the progression of neuronal damage to an extent previously unattained and thus prolonging the disease-free phase. A new feature is that the active substance called anle138b targets directly and specifically oligomer forms of protein. Thus, anle138b prevents the aggregation and formation of new, disease-relevant oligomer protein forms. The synthesized drug, which was administered with food to test mice, is tolerated very well in therapeutic doses and effectively penetrates the blood-brain barrier, thereby reaching high levels in the brain with a small dosage. The mice exposed to anle138b had significantly longer survival times and were able to display better motor coordination than their untreated sick siblings, as the results of the pre-clinical study impressively show.
In the future, diseases such as Parkinson’s could possibly be slowed down or even stopped with anle138b as disease-related processes are directly inhibited. However, the new substance is not only effective for diseases such as Parkinson’s. Positive research results show that anle138b is effective with Creutzfeld-Jakob by effectively inhibiting the aggregation of pathogenic protein deposits, and treated mice survive significantly longer. Likewise, the results in mouse models for Alzheimer’s are encouraging. Managing Director Dr. Torsten Matthias, also founder and CEO of AESKU.DIAGNOSTICS says that “due to the study results so far, the MODAG GmbH seriously gives me hope that with this new substance we will be able to offer the much-needed help for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s patients with an early stage and safe therapy.”
The underlying basic technology was patented as joint invention of the LMU München and the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry and was exclusively licensed by MODAG GmbH. “We are pleased that we could help bundling the research competencies of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in the field of drug research in a targeted way into this promising spin-off company,” says Peer Biskup, Managing Director of the Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH, the patent marketing agency of the Bavarian universities and universities of applied sciences. “In addition to outstanding research skills, MODAG also has necessary development skills and extensive business know-how,” adds Astrid Giegold, Start-up & Portfolio Manager at Max Planck Innovation, MPG’s technology transfer organization.
About MODAG GmbH
The MODAG GmbH, located at the high-technology park in Wendelsheim, Germany, deals with the research and development of therapeutics and diagnostics for neurodegenerative diseases. MODAG GmbH’s innovative approach offers a unique combination of early diagnosis and targeted disease modifying therapies. MODAG GmbH’s networking ability with the EU-funded international research collaborations combined with the interdisciplinary expertise of the founders and its extensive development expertise provide ideal conditions for the accelerated implementation into clinical applications. From an extensive portfolio of patented active substances, the first development candidate is to be tested in the first clinical trials as early as 2015.
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About Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH
As the central patent and marketing agency for 28 Bavarian universities and universities of applied sciences, the Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH markets the inventions of more than 18,000 scientists. Thereby, it supports the researchers in protecting their inventions and then facilitates its commercial use. We provide industry with a unique access to the largest technology pool in Bavaria. Thanks to the internationally renowned research quality of the Bavarian universities, Bayerische Patentallianz GmbH owns a high quality range of marketable innovations and patents in life sciences and physical sciences. www.baypat.de
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About Max Planck Innovation
Max Planck Innovation is responsible for the technology transfer of the Max Planck Society and, as such, serves as a link between industry and basic research. With our interdisciplinary team we advise and support scientists in evaluating their inventions, filing patents, and founding companies. We offer the industry unique access to the innovations of the Max Planck Institutes, and therefore perform an important task: the transfer of basic research results into products, which contributes to economic and social progress.
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