New Partners to Develop Therapies to Ease Brain Inflammation

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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Parkinson’s UK and Domainex are teaming up to develop small molecules aimed at lessening chronic brain inflammation and slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

“We are thrilled to have been selected by Parkinson’s UK to work on this promising project which has the potential to improve the lives of 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK,” Tom Mander, PhD, CEO of Domainex, said in a press release.

“We look forward to working with the team at Parkinson’s UK and supporting the wider Parkinson’s community to progress the development of potentially life-changing medicines,” he added.

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The collaboration will take place over 2.5 years, with Parkinson’s UK investing up to £3 million (about $4 million US) via its therapy development arm called Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech.

“The Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech is driven by the experiences and most pressing needs of the Parkinson’s community,” said Richard Morphy, PhD, Drug Discovery manager at Parkinson’s UK. “We’re excited to work with Domainex over the course of the project to engage and involve people living with the condition in this important work.”

Chronic inflammation in the brain (neuroinflammation) is believed to contribute to the loss of dopaminergic neurons — those responsible for releasing the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical messenger that allows nerve cells to communicate and helps regulate movement, among other functions.

Previous research conducted with the support of Parkinson’s UK has led to the discovery of a group of small molecules that target a protein located at the surface of microglia — considered the immune cells of the brain that become overactive during Parkinson’s.

Now, Domainex will be responsible for the therapy discovery process to assess and tailor the pharmaceutical properties of these small molecules and, eventually, select the best candidate molecule to continue into clinical development.

“We’re delighted to work with Domainex and our other project partners to find compounds that can mitigate the damaging microglial over-activation in Parkinson’s,” said Morphy.

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The company will conduct biological, medicinal, and computational chemistry assays to assess the candidates’ potential to slow or even stop Parkinson’s progression, a long-term goal that no current medicine has achieved.

“Domainex was selected following an extensive review process on the basis of their experience and capability to execute a fully integrated drug discovery project, including the development of neuroinflammation assays and the optimisation of our compounds’ target engagement in the brain,” said Morphy.