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29 July, 2021 - 13:56 By Tony Quested

NRG Therapeutics wins $500K from Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s programme

NRG Therapeutics, an innovative neuroscience company targeting mitochondrial dysfunction, has been awarded a $500,000 grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), to support its lead drug discovery programme and the development of a novel treatment for Parkinson’s. 

The company is now addressing the launch of a potentially transformative Series A round.

NRG is applying breakthrough science in the field of mitochondrial biology to develop first-in-class treatments for Parkinson’s. Its approach is based on inhibiting 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.

The grant will fund experiments using a state-of-the-art chemoproteomic platform to identify the molecular target(s) of NRG’s lead drug candidate, which was discovered via phenotypic screening.

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.”

Classical ‘first-generation’ inhibitors of mPTP, such as cyclosporin A, inhibit cyclophilin D (CypD), a protein that is believed to regulate the pore. However, all historical attempts to develop CypD inhibitors that can cross the blood-brain barrier have been unsuccessful. 

NRG has discovered novel ‘second-generation’ mPTP inhibitors that are small drug-like molecules, orally bioavailable and CNS-penetrant, and therefore have the potential for use in the treatment of chronic neurodegenerative disorders. NRG’s lead assets were identified through phenotypic screening in isolated mitochondria and have been shown to act independently of CypD.

Backed by seed equity investment from Parkinson’s UK via the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech, NRG will seek to secure a Series A funding to advance its assets through IND-enabling studies and into the clinic.

NRG Therapeutics is a neuroscience drug discovery company building a pipeline of disease modifying drug candidates, focused on therapeutic approaches that will 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). 

The company’s pre-clinical pipeline of small molecule assets is based on inhibiting the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP). Inhibition of the mPTP has been shown to protect neurons, reduce neuroinflammation and extend survival in pre-clinical disease models.

Based in Cambridge, UK, NRG Therapeutics is a private company with equity investment from Parkinson’s UK and grant funding from The Michael J. Fox Foundation.

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