AbbVie, Mitokinin Partner to Advance PINK1 Program

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by Diana Campelo Delgado |

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AbbVie has purchased an exclusive right to acquire Mitokinin, which includes its PINK1 clinical program for the potential treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Under this agreement, Mitokinin will receive an upfront payment and continue to develop its PINK1 compounds by completing an investigational new drug (IND) application and enabling clinical studies.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the world-class neuroscience team at AbbVie to bring our PINK1 program forward,” Daniel de Roulet, co-founder and CEO at Mitokinin, said in a press release.

“It’s a testament to the quality of our science and the strength of our scientific team that we were able to attract a partner of AbbVie’s caliber,” said Nicholas Hertz, PhD, co-founder and chief scientific officer at Mitokinin. “We look forward to executing on the collaborative research plan, and most of all, to developing much needed therapeutics.”

PTEN-induced putative kinase 1, or PINK1, is an enzyme that protects brain cells against stress and plays an essential role in the recycling of mitochondria (the cell’s powerhouse), a process known as mitophagy.

Strong evidence suggests that mutations in the PINK1 gene, which instructs production of the PINK1 protein, are linked to early onset hereditary Parkinson’s. When the PINK1 gene is mutated, tangles of the PINK1 protein can build inside mitochondria within brain cells, damaging them.

Also, when PINK1 mutations render the enzyme ineffective, its protective effect is no longer in place, establishing the conditions for neurodegeneration.

Based on technology developed at University California San Francisco by Mitokinin’s co-founders Kevan Shokat and Hertz, the company is advancing novel candidate molecules that selectively increase PINK1 enzyme activity,  which addresses mitochondrial dysfunction that contributes to the development of Parkinson’s disease.

“I’m excited to continue to demonstrate the therapeutic potential of our specific PINK1 targeting compounds and to push towards the clinic with the AbbVie team,” added Hertz.

Mitokinin’s lead clinical program is focused on PINK1-targeted therapeutics for both neurodegenerative and mitochondrial diseases. Specifically, it targets idiopathic Parkinson’s disease, so-called because the disease has no identifiable genetic or other cause.

“Mitokinin’s breakthrough PINK1 approach has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of Parkinson’s,” said Michael D. Taylor, PhD, executive chairman of Mitokinin.

“Our new relationship with AbbVie is key to continuing our development and potentially bringing this new class of therapeutics to patients,” Taylor said.