Inflazome, a Dublin, Ireland-based biotech company, had secured more than $1m in funding from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).
Inflazome will use this grant to develop a NLRP3-specific Positron Emission Tomography (PET) tracer for non-invasive imaging of inflammasome-driven inflammation in the brain.
The NLRP3 inflammasome is claimed to offer chronic inflammation associated with the progression of many neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s Disease. A PET tracer could also help Inflazome in determining the specific doses for patients in larger clinical trials.
The company is developing orally available drugs to address the unmet needs in inflammatory diseases by targeting the NLRP3 inflammasome, which is now known to drive many chronic and acute inflammatory conditions.
Recently, the NLRP3 inflammasome was also recently shown to have been associated with the progression of Parkinson’s Disease.
For improved accuracy and the probability of success of a clinical trial in neurodegenerative disease, it is imperative to select suitable patients at the appropriate staging of a disease. It is also needed to determine whether the biological target of interest is being engaged by the drug in the brain.
One approach is to use an NLRP3-specific tracer during a PET scan. The tracer would quickly, accurately and non-invasively produce images that show the drug binding with the targeted inflammasomes in the brain.
Inflazome co-founder and CEO Matt Cooper said: “The Michael J. Fox Foundation is a fantastic organisation with a passionate commitment to new science, science translation and candidate therapies for Parkinson’s. We are fully aligned in our shared goal to help patients with Parkinson’s and other debilitating neurodegenerative diseases, for which there are inadequate therapies and no cures.
“Their support will help us advance and hopefully validate our disruptive approach to diagnose and then treat patients by focusing on neuroinflammation.”
MJFF research programs director Jamie Eberling said: “An imaging tool to visualize neuroinflammation may help investigate Parkinson’s onset and progression as well as evaluate new treatments that could alter the course of the disease. Our Foundation is investing in this research due to the significant potential impact on drug development and patient lives.”
Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder, which is known to affect more than 10 million people worldwide. It is characterised by the loss of dopamine-producing neurons, coupled with chronic inflammation in the brain.
The company claims to have developed a tool compound, MCC950, which can inhibit the NLRP3 inflammasome, which is given orally once a day. The compound is claimed to have significantly reduced the effects of Parkinson’s in several animal models of the disease.