MJFF $1.49M grant to advance preclinical research into KLS-13019

CBD-derived therapy aims to target brain inflammation in Parkinson's

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by Andrea Lobo |

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Kannalife Sciences has been awarded a $1.49 million grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) to support the development of KLS-13019, the company’s novel cannabidiol- or CBD-derived therapy targeting neuroinflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction in Parkinson’s disease.

KLS-13019 has shown promising results in preclinical models of brain inflammation (neuroinflammation) and oxidative stress (cell damage), both of which are known to be involved in neurodegeneration seen in Parkinson’s disease.

“This funding highlights the foundation’s commitment to advancing Parkinson’s therapeutic research by addressing neuroinflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction, two key factors in the disease,” Jessica Tome Garcia, PhD, associate director of research programs at MJFF, said in a Kannalife press release.

“We look forward to seeing the results of Kannalife Sciences’ innovative work on KLS-13019,” Garcia added.

Douglas Brenneman, PhD, Kannalife’s chief pharmacologist and the study’s principal investigator, said the company is “confident that we can make meaningful progress toward [accelerating the development of improved therapies for Parkinson’s disease] and, ultimately, improve the lives of patients living with Parkinson’s.”

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Parkinson’s is caused by the progressive dysfunction and death of dopaminergic neurons, the nerve cells responsible for making dopamine, a signaling molecule in the brain. Several factors are thought to contribute to the loss of these neurons, including neuroinflammation — inflammation within the brain — and mitochondrial dysfunction. Mitochondria serve as the primary energy-producing structures within cells, often called the cell’s powerhouse.

Kannalife is developing a new class of oral small molecules, including KLS-13019, that target neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. The experimental therapy is a novel cannabidiol-derived molecule with structural similarities to CBD, a naturally occurring molecule in cannabis known to have neuroprotective properties. According to the company, however, KLS-13019 is more potent, safer, and more effective than CBD.

In preclinical studies, KLS-13019 was able to prevent or reduce chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy — when nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord are damaged, causing pain — and showed promising results in models of neuroinflammation and oxidative stress.

These studies also validated KLS-13019’s effects on mitochondrial targets, including the mitochondrial sodium/calcium exchange 1 protein (mNCX1), a protein that participates in the regulation of cellular calcium levels. Dysfunction of mNCX1 contributes to impaired mitochondrial function and oxidative stress.

This grant represents a significant milestone in our research efforts … in mobilizing KLS-13019 into a potential therapeutic for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

Successful completion of these studies will help to allow the launch of human clinical trials for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy induced by chemotherapy. The financial support from MJFF will help with the scientific validation of KLS-13019 in Parkinson’s disease.

“This grant represents a significant milestone in our research efforts … in mobilizing KLS-13019 into a potential therapeutic for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease,” Brenneman said.

“I also want to thank our research partners … for taking the time and effort to put an outstanding study protocol together for our research program in [Parkinson’s disease],” Brenneman added.