NIH Awards Sinopia $3.3M to Advance Small Molecule Program

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by Margarida Maia PhD |

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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Sinopia Biosciences $3.3 million to advance the development of its small molecule candidate for Parkinson’s disease.

Sinopia will use the grant to move the small molecule forward through investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies. An IND is a medicine that has been tested in the lab and has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for testing in clinical trials — those involving humans.

“We are pleased to receive funding from the NIH to support the advancement of our Parkinson’s disease program towards the clinic,” Iman Famili, PhD, president and CEO of Sinopia, said in a press release.

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The small molecule was identified using Sinopia’s LEarn And DiScover (LEADS) platform, an engine that allows new candidate therapies to be discovered. In a first step, the platform combines machine learning, or the use of computers that imitate the way humans learn, and multi-omics network analysis — the understanding of the relationships among different factors, like genes, proteins, and the environment.

The goal is to identify common mechanisms in models of disease.

Then, in a second step, the LEADS platform uses a screening process to identify and test potential therapeutic targets found worthy of moving into the development phase.

In rodent and non-human primate studies, Sinopia’s small molecule candidate was found promising for relieving both the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and a common complication of levodopa medication called levodopa-induced dyskinesia, which is involuntary movements.

Levodopa is a medication that can be converted into dopamine — the neurotransmitter missing in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease. However, its long-term use as a therapy may result in spontaneous involuntary movements.

“Parkinson’s disease affects nearly 7 million people worldwide and is the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world, with the number of patients expected to double by 2040,” Famili said. “It’s a disease that imposes heavy burdens on patients and caregivers, particularly because current treatments are not optimal and have serious long-term liabilities with chronic use that must be addressed.”

The grant is a fast-track Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). The fast-track mechanism allows companies to apply to both Phase 1 (feasibility and proof of concept) and Phase 2 (research and development) awards at the same time, thus providing a more rapid transition for therapeutic candidates.

Sinopia called its platform “potentially transformative pharmacology.”