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Less than a week after Max Planck scientists received a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF), Jupiter’s Envoy Therapeutics announces their second award, $1.2 million, from the foundation. The additional funding will enable the continued development of compounds that selectively act on the motor circuitry that is compromised in Parkinson’s disease (PD) via modulation of a receptor target identified by Envoy. Further validation of the functional role of this biological target is intended to pave the way for the progression of compounds through preclinical development and eventually to improved treatment options for PD patients.

The objective of the MJFF-funded project is to develop an oral therapeutic that provides the symptomatic benefit of dopamine replacement therapy but with sustained efficacy and with minimal acute and long-term side effects. The therapeutic benefit of dopamine precursor L-DOPA (the current gold standard in treating PD) is hampered by serious side effects, including dyskinesia, compulsive behaviors and somnolence. Envoy Therapeutics’ bacTRAP® technology enables the identification of new drug targets selectively expressed in brain circuits of therapeutic interest, thereby minimizing activity in circuits that may trigger unwanted side effects. Envoy has identified novel small molecule compounds that selectively engage the target of interest. Compounds have been optimized for potency, pharmacokinetic properties and central nervous system (CNS) penetration, and have shown efficacy in a PD model. With this funding, lead compounds will now be used to further validate the target hypothesis in more definitive in vivo models. Successful target validation will position the program to advance into safety assessment studies in readiness for clinical development.

“Levodopa is still the standard of care for people with Parkinson’s, but the side effects of levodopa treatment remain one of the most challenging aspects of living day to day with the disease. For this reason, developing improved symptomatic treatments that limit dyskinesia is a priority for our Foundation,” said Todd Sherer, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of MJFF. “We are hopeful that Envoy’s ongoing work to this end will lead to improved treatment for patients.”

“We are thrilled to expand our collaboration with the team at The Michael J. Fox Foundation, and to advance closer to safety studies and clinical development on a compound to effectively modulate the highly selective target we have discovered with our bacTRAP® technology, ” added Steve Hitchcock, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery at Envoy. “Successful completion of this next phase will move us another significant step forward toward human clinical development.”

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