Japanese pharma company Eisai has entered into a research collaboration agreement with Cambridge, UK-based Wren Therapeutics to discover new small molecules for the potential treatment of synucleinopathies.

Synucleinopathies are neurodegenerative disease characterised by the misfolding and aggregation of a-synuclein in neurons and glial cells.

This includes Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy.

“Synucleinopathies such as dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease represent a significant unmet medical need due to the lack of any effective disease-modifying treatments,” said Teiji Kimura, vice president, chief discovery officer of the Eisai Neurology Business Group.

“The accumulation of α-synuclein oligomers with protein misfolding is an important hallmark of these diseases. The Wren team, with its world-renowned founding scientists, is pioneering a new and fundamentally different approach to addressing protein misfolding diseases,” he added.

The research collaboration agreement will utilise Wren’s novel network kinetics drug discovery platform, which quantifies the effects of small molecules on the protein misfolding and aggregation pathway that causes neurodegenerative diseases.

The company will focus on identifying novel small molecules that selectively control the aggregation process of a-synuclein.

The collaboration will combine Wren’s drug discovery platform alongside Eisai’s experience in drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases to accelerate the development of clinical candidates.

“We are delighted to have formed this collaboration with Eisai, a company with a distinguished track record and company-wide commitment to providing innovative treatments for patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases,” said Samuel Cohen, chief executive officer of Wren.

“We believe that by combining our unique, predictive and quantitatively driven platform with Eisai’s deep expertise in neurology, we can together advance highly differentiated small molecules targeting α-synuclein for the treatment of debilitating protein misfolding disorders such as Parkinson’s disease,” he added.