Eisai Partners With Wren to Discover New Therapies for Parkinson’s, Other Diseases

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by Joana Carvalho, PhD |

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Eisai is partnering with Wren Therapeutics to advance the discovery of new small molecule compounds capable of reducing the misfolding and aggregation of alpha-synuclein, the underlying cause of different neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

The research collaboration will leverage Wren’s new network kinetics drug discovery platform to identify small molecule candidates that have the potential to selectively target and limit the aggregation of alpha-synuclein.  Eisai will lend its expertise in neurodegenerative disorders to accelerate the development of the most promising candidates to clinical trials.

“We are delighted to have formed this collaboration with Eisai, a company with a distinguished track record and company-wide commitment to providing innovative treatments for patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases,” Samuel Cohen, PhD, CEO of Wren, said in a press release.

“We believe that by combining our unique, predictive and quantitatively driven platform with Eisai’s deep expertise in neurology, we can together advance highly differentiated small molecules targeting α-synuclein for the treatment of debilitating protein misfolding disorders such as Parkinson’s disease,” Cohen said.

Alpha-synuclein is a protein that is particularly abundant in the brain, where it tends to localize at neurons’ endings, in specialized structures called presynaptic terminals. Within these structures, alpha-synuclein interacts with other molecules and proteins, and is thought to help regulate neuron function and communication.

However, when misfolded, alpha-synuclein tends to aggregate and form protein clumps. When these aggregates of alpha-synuclein build up to toxic levels inside nerve cells, the cells start to die. This is the hallmark of synucleinopathies, which comprise a series of neurodegenerative disorders in which the loss of nerve cells is triggered mainly by the accumulation of misfolded alpha-synuclein.

“Synucleinopathies such as dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease represent a significant unmet medical need due to the lack of any effective disease-modifying treatments. The accumulation of [alpha]-synuclein oligomers with protein misfolding is an important hallmark of these diseases,” said Teiji Kimura, PhD, vice president and chief discovery officer of the Eisai Neurology Business Group.

“The Wren team, with its world-renowned founding scientists, is pioneering a new and fundamentally different approach to addressing protein misfolding diseases. By integrating capabilities across both companies we expect this exciting collaboration to be uniquely successful in identifying novel disease-modifying therapeutics for patients suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s disease and related disorders,” Kimura added.

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