2022-05-31| Funding

NRG Therapeutics Wins £2.68M to Treat Chronic Neurodegenerative Disorders

by Fujie Tham
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Cambridge, UK-based NRG Therapeutics announced that it has received the competitive Biomedical Catalyst award to prep pre-clinical development of its novel medicine that targets mitochondria and calcium levels inside brain cells for treating Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease (MND), and other chronic neurodegenerative disorders.

The £2.68 million Biomedical Catalyst award funded by Innovate UK will support a 24-month project, commencing this month. In 2019 and 2020, NRG also secured £2 million from Parkinson’s UK to launch and develop its mitochondrial drug program. 

Related article: Recounting 25 Years of Genetic and Human Diversity Discovery With deCODE Founder Kari Stefansson 


Drugs to Stop or Slow Parkinson’s Disease


When brain cells function normally, calcium ions flow into the cells, and mitochondria play a role in regulating the concentration of calcium ions to prevent cell damage. Recently, researchers have discovered a direct connection between mitochondria and the reduction of brain cells in Parkinson’s cases. When mitochondria become overwhelmed with calcium, the mitochondria’s permeability transition pore (mPTP), is opened, which eventually causes the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. By preventing the pores’ opening, inhibitory molecules may slow the progression of neurodegenerative conditions.

Since 2019, NRG has made significant progress towards the discovery of novel, small molecules that may enter the brain and stop mitochondrial permeability transition pores from opening in dopamine-producing cells. These molecules hold potential for drugs that can prevent the brain cells lost in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and motor neuron disease. 

Dr. Arthur Roach, Director of Research at Parkinson’s UK said, “What has limited the pharmaceutical industry to date from exploring mPTP inhibitors as novel therapeutic treatments, has been the poor central nervous system (CNS) penetration of known mPTP inhibitors. NRG’s small molecules are the first orally bioavailable and CNS-penetrant inhibitors of the mPTP. We are pleased to support NRG in developing its promising discoveries into new drug treatments that could transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s.”

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