Boost for Motor Neurone disease sufferers
Phytopharm, the plant bioscience market leader based in Cambridge’s BioMedTech cluster, saw its share price rise almost 13 per cent to 8.95p after positive trial results.
The UK company released preliminary data indicating that its Cogane solution had demonstrated efficacy in a genetic preclinical model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – the most common form of motor neurone disease. World-renowned Cambridge academic Stephen Hawking, whose 70th birthday was feted globally last week, is a sufferer.
The study was performed in a model that has a mutation in the SOD1 gene (SOD1G93A); mutation of the SOD1 gene is a known cause of ALS in humans.
In this study Cogane was administered orally for 50 days, starting after ALS-type symptoms were manifest. This is therefore considered to be a model of severe, late-stage ALS.
Phytopharm says that administration of Cogane resulted in a 30-50 per cent improvement in muscle strength in one muscle type compared to both the untreated control group and a group treated with riluzole (currently the only product marketed for the treatment of ALS).
Treatment also resulted in an increase in the number of motor units (a measure of functional motor neurones) compared with both the untreated and riluzole treated control groups.
These are preliminary, headline results and the full results from the study, including histopathology data, will be published in due course. The results support those reported previously by Phytopharm in which Cogane showed benefit in an environmental (toxin-induced) model of ALS, in a progressive motor neuropathy model and in a nerve crush model.
Phytopharm said that collectively the results from these four different models of ALS provided strong support for the utility of Cogane in the treatment of the devastating condition.
Phytopharm has obtained orphan drug status in Europe and the US for Cogane in ALS.
The study was performed by the group of Professor Linda Greensmith, University College, London, with the financial support of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, a UK based charitable organisation.
Professor Greensmith said: “The data from this genetic model of ALS are very encouraging and, taken with the data from the other models of ALS in which it has been tested, indicate that Cogane has significant potential as a therapy for ALS and merits further evaluation.”
Tim Sharpington, Phytopharm’s CEO, added: “These results are very encouraging as we set a difficult challenge in this study by looking for efficacy in a severe, end-stage disease model.
“We have established an impressive set of data for Cogane in a broad range of neurodegenerative disease models, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease as well as ALS.
“There is a major unmet need and substantial commercial opportunity for new therapies which can delay or halt the progression of these diseases. We look forward to receiving more data on Cogane as we complete our ongoing clinical study in Parkinson’s disease.”