Valted Seq Acquires Rights to Develop Biomarker Assays

Vanda Pinto, PhD avatar

by Vanda Pinto, PhD |

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D&D Pharmatech’s new subsidiary, Valted Seq, announced it has acquired exclusive rights from Johns Hopkins University to develop multiple biomarker assays for the evaluation and management of neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s.

“There are currently no clinically accepted biomarker assays available for Parkinson’s disease. An assay capable of identifying disease-relevant biomarker results would provide high medical value to these patients,” Seulki Lee, PhD, chairman of Valted Seq, said in a press release.

Two types of assays will be evaluated for the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. One type of test detects poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PAR) in the cerebrospinal fluid, serum, or plasma exosomes, which are extracellular vesicles that can contain proteins and nucleic acids. The other type of assay evaluates Abelson tyrosine kinase (c-Abl) pathway molecules from serum or plasma exosomes. Both tests are considered minimally invasive and highly specific.

In Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, hyperactivation of the enzyme PARP-1 results in cell death. PARP-1 inhibiting therapies are used to treat some types of cancers and recent studies have shown their potential for delaying or even halting Parkinson’s disease.

c-Abl is an important player in the progression of Parkinson’s disease and inhibiting its action in animal models has shown beneficial effects. Markers in the c-Abl pathway that will be evaluated by Valted Seq include c-Abl, alpha-synuclein, parkin, AIMP2, PARIS, PARP1, and PAR.

The assessment of these pathway molecules also could be used to diagnose other alpha-synucleinopathies besides Parkinson’s disease. Alpha-synucleinopathies refer to neurodegenerative disorders characterized by an increased accumulation of alpha-synuclein protein in the central and/or peripheral nervous system.

Assays that can determine PAR levels or any of the c-Abl pathway molecules potentially could be used to diagnose, monitor, and manage Parkinson’s disease and other alpha-synucleinopathies. They also could be applied in clinical trials, For example, they could help select participants or match a patient to a specific treatment.

“Our sponsored research agreement with Johns Hopkins has been highly productive and the obvious next step was to bring this technology in-house. This exclusive agreement will allow us to evaluate and optimize multiple PAR and c-Abl pathway biomarker assays for potential use in clinical applications,” said Isabell Loftin, PhD, vice president, Diagnostics at Valted Seq.

“These applications include screening, diagnosis, patient selection and stratification for clinical trials, monitoring disease progression and evaluation of the efficacy of future therapies in Parkinson’s disease and related α-synucleinopathies,” Loftin concluded.

Valted Seq is the fourth subsidiary of D&D Pharmatech, along with Neuraly, Precision Molecular, and Theraly Fibrosis. These companies are focused on neurodegenerative, fibrotic, and metabolic diseases.