BrightFocus Foundation, a nonprofit and premier source of research funding to defeat Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and glaucoma, today was acknowledged as the catalyst behind a major advance in drug development for Alzheimer’s disease.
A new partnership between the French company Servier and the Treventis Corporation of Canada will develop and test a drug targeting misfolded proteins linked to neurodegenerative diseases. Treventis’ discovery in this area is the direct outgrowth of a research program developed and led by its founder, Donald Weaver, MD, PhD, with $1 million in grant support from BrightFocus’ Alzheimer’s Disease Research program.
“BrightFocus had the wisdom and foresight to understand that this project could lead to a novel treatment for Alzheimer’s. It is a foundation that has the guts to fund a high risk, innovative idea,” Weaver said. Weaver is Director of the University of Toronto’s Krembil Research Institute.
Weaver’s decade-long effort has been to develop a small molecule drug that would target a process known as “protein misfolding.” This happens when toxic molecular changes cause tau and beta-amyloid, key proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease, to misshape and aggregate, or collect, in the human brain. There are currently no commercially-available small molecule drugs that target protein misfolding in neurodegenerative diseases. Importantly, this pioneering disease-modifying agent for Alzheimer’s would be an oral drug that can cross the blood-brain barrier.
Treventis (which stands for “Treat and Prevent Alzheimer’s”) got its start after Weaver and colleagues discovered and began to develop one viable drug candidate that ultimately proved unsuitable for use in humans. Following that, the BrightFocus grant was used to develop a screening platform used to create 2000 more options designed after the original drug. This current project is to fine tune that search, find drug candidates, validate them, and move into Phase I clinical trials.
“This is an exciting and hopeful development, a potential game-changer that could revolutionize efforts to treat Alzheimer’s. At BrightFocus, we are honored to have been the crucial funder of Dr. Weaver’s groundbreaking research that is expected to lead to clinical trials,” said Stacy Pagos Haller, President and CEO of BrightFocus Foundation.
BrightFocus, through its Alzheimer’s Disease Research program, is currently supporting nearly 100 research projects worldwide, an over $22 million investment in bold, innovative science to defeat Alzheimer’s and related dementias. For more information, visit www.BrightFocus.org/research
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