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Cambridge neuroscience specialist NRG Therapeutics secures $500,000 from The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Cambridge neuroscience company NRG Therapeutics has been awarded a $500,000 grant from The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).

It will use the funding to support its lead drug discovery programme and develop a novel treatment for Parkinson’s.

Dr Neil Miller, founder and CEO of NRG Therapeutics
Dr Neil Miller, founder and CEO of NRG Therapeutics

The company is applying mitochondrial biology techniques to develop first in class treatments for Parkinson’s.

It seeks to inhibit the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) in brain cells, which has been shown to be neuroprotective in several preclinical models of Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

NRG Therapeutics’ co-founder and CEO Dr Neil Miller said: “We are passionate about finding new treatments that offer hope and could change the lives of millions with neurodegenerative diseases.

“There is a significant unmet medical need as all current treatments for Parkinson’s control symptoms but do not halt or slow progression of disease.

“We are delighted to have received funding from MJFF to help us advance our understanding of the molecular target for our mPTP inhibitors.

“Despite recent successes, truly disease-modifying treatments for Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases remain the holy grail.”

The grant will enable NRG to fund experiments using a state-of-the-art chemoproteomic platform to identify the molecular target or targets of NRG’s lead drug candidate.

First-generation inhibitors of mPTP - such as cyclosporin A - have been able to inhibit cyclophilin D (CypD), a protein that is believed to regulate the pore but attempts so far to develop CypD inhibitors that can cross the blood-brain barrier have been fruitless..

NRG says it has discovered novel second-generation mPTP inhibitors that are small drug-like molecules, orally bioavailable and capable of penetrating the central nervous system, giving them the potential for use in the treatment of chronic neurodegenerative disorders.

The company’s lead assets were identified through phenotypic screening in isolated mitochondria. They have been shown to act independently of CypD.

Dr Marco Baptista, MJFF vice president of research programs, said: “Our mission is to support development of life-changing treatments for people with Parkinson’s disease, and we are pleased to provide funding for this project toward that goal.”

NRG’s approach is to restore mitochondrial function and slow or halt the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and motor neuron disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

It has seed equity investment from Parkinson’s UK via the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech.

It is now plotting a Series A funding round to help progress its drug candidates through IND-enabling studies and into the clinic.

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