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17 February, 2011 - 14:34 By Staff Reporter

Living longer with ill health


One of the largest global markets where medical need remains largely unmet is healthcare for an ever-ageing population. While oncology grabs a lion’s share of healines and cash, conditions and diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s have been the poor cousins for far too long.

Thankfully, the efforts of Babraham-based senexis Limited are playing a major role in redressing the imbalance.

Senexis is seeking a further funding round in 2011 from existing and new investors and is busy preparing its technology to enter the clinic in 2012.

The company is currently backed by two major investors, The Wellcome Trust and BTG plc. The MRC, which knows a thing or two abot hot science, is also a shareholder.

Senexis is developing novel small-molecule inhibitors of amyloid aggregation as new disease-modifying medicines to inhibit and reverse the pathogenic process of ageing.

By screening focused libraries of drug-like inhibitors against multiple target amyloid-like proteins, Senexis has identified potent inhibitors that can selectively inhibit the formation and the effects of toxic species associated with this ageing process.

Its drugs currently in pre-clinical developments for Alzheimer's disease have already shown pre-clinical efficacy in a variety of established models of memory and learning and continue to advance towards the clinic. In parallel, Senexis is also building its pipeline of drug development programmes for other neurological and systemic degenerative conditions, such as  diabetes.

The company’s composition-of-matter patent portfolio protects a range of small molecule compounds with future therapeutic potential.

Senexis has made huge strides since it was formed in 2001 and is ready for the next big push. It could hardly be better timed: The average lifespan is now 80 across most industrialised countries and is rising rapidly.

The World Alzheimer Report published near the end of last year put the implications of the ageing population into stark focus. It estimated that the costs associated with dementia amounted to more than one per cent of the world’s goss domestic product in 2010 at $604bn (£388bn) – more than the revenue of retail giant Wal-Mart or oil firm Exxon Mobil.

Prevalence of ageing-related disease, specifically dementia and full blown Alzheimer’s, will double by 2030.

Senexis CEO, Dr Mark Treherne, said: “The ageing population is a potential economic time bomb. We will all have to retain good cognitive function with age to continue to work and pay the bills to fill the pension gap.

“Far more funding is needed to deliver treatments – from both the public and private sectors. Awareness of the problem is greater than perhaps it has ever been. Everyone appreciates the big picture.

“Now we need to see more hard cash trickle down through to the economic food chain, as it were. For Senexis. The strategy in 2011 is clear – to continue testing our potential new medicines with the intention of entering the clinic in 2012.

“It is no secret that we are seeking further funding this year and we would welcome the opportunity to open dialogue with any synergistic new investors.”

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