The grant award supports further testing of AbFero’s lead compound in Parkinson’s models with a goal of moving it into clinical trials. SP-420, a next-generation iron chelator, is believed safer and more tolerable than earlier versions, the U.K. group reports.
“AbFero is working urgently to develop best-in-class, next generation iron chelators that will slow progression and improve the quality of life for the nearly 10 million people living with Parkinson’s,” Thomas Neenan, the company’s CEO, said in a press release.
“We’re grateful to Cure Parkinson’s for their support,” Neenan added. The grant’s amount and terms were not disclosed in the release.
SP-420 is a small molecule designed to clear excess iron from the body by binding, or chelating, to it. As a small molecule, it can cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially enabling it to remove the iron that accumulates to toxic amounts in the brains of Parkinson’s patients.
This toxic buildup is believed to cause oxidative stress (cellular damage due to high levels of oxidant molecules), an iron-dependent type of nerve cell (neuron) death called ferroptosis, and alpha-synuclein aggregation — all of which are Parkinson’s hallmarks.
Past studies have shown that excessive brain levels of iron can predict the severity of Parkinson’s and patients’ cognitive decline, and a worsening of symptoms. These and other findings have made removing iron by chelation an attractive therapeutic approach.
“Iron chelation is an extremely promising line of investigation in Parkinson’s,” said Richard Wyse, director of research and development at Cure Parkinson’s.
“Cure Parkinson’s has been a strong proponent of iron chelation for Parkinson’s, so this grant is particularly meaningful. It further accelerates AbFero’s drive towards our first clinical study,” Neenan said.
AbFero previously was awarded a nearly €2 million (about $2.4 million) grant from he the Eureka Network’s Eurostars program to support preclinical testing of SP-420 and other iron-removing compounds.
With the latest grant from Cure Parkinson’s, the company aims to develop potential biomarkers of SP-420’s effects and of patient response to treatment.
This work into SP-420 will led by David Devos, PhD, a neuroscientist and professor of medical pharmacology at University Hospital of Lille, in France.
“We believe SP-420 is one of the greatest iron chelators, given it has excellent kinetics, high oral bioavailability and biodistribution, and no evidence to date of inappropriate competition with the native iron transport and storage mechanisms of the body,” Devos said.
“Our funding for this project adds new impetus and expands our long-standing interest in the future relevance of this approach in slowing or stopping long-term neurodegeneration,” Wyse added.
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