NRG Therapeutics announces multi-million Innovate UK Award to develop treatments for Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease

Neuroscience company NRG Therapeutics has announced that it has received a Biomedical Catalyst award. The £2.68m package will fund the pre-clinical development of its novel small molecule disease-modifying medicines for treating Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease (MND) and other debilitating neurodegenerative disorders.

The award – partly-funded by the government-backed agency Innovate UK – will support a 24-month project commencing this month.

NRG applies ground-breaking mitochondrial biology to develop first-in-class therapies. Its approach is based on inhibiting the mitochondrial permeability transition pore in brain cells, which has demonstrated compelling protection in several preclinical models of Parkinson’s and MND.

Mitochondria are essentially ‘batteries’ of cells for maintaining cell health but there is now a body of evidence showing that mitochondrial failure is common throughout many degenerative diseases. NRG's investigational new drugs have been shown in vitro to prevent the death of brain cells.

If the project is successful, it would provide the first disease-modifying medicine to halt or slow disease progression for people with Parkinson’s currently treated through only managing symptoms.

Dr Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson's UK and a board member of NRG Therapeutics, explained: “What has limited the pharmaceutical industry to date from exploring mPTP inhibitors as novel therapeutic treatments, has been the poor central nervous system (CNS) penetration of known mPTP inhibitors.”

“NRG’s small molecules are the first orally bioavailable and CNS-penetrant inhibitors of the mPTP. We are pleased to support NRG in developing its promising discoveries into new drug treatments that could transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s,” he added.

The funding from Innovate UK follows vital financial contributions from the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech, the drug development arm of Parkinson’s UK and The Michael J Fox Foundation.

Parkinson’s currently affects around six million individuals across the world and is the fastest-growing neurological disorder.