Prana receives Michael J. Fox Foundation Grant
Prana receives Michael J. Fox Foundation Grant to Develop PBT434 for Parkinson’s Disease
MELBOURNE, Australia – August 22, 2011 – Prana Biotechnology Limited (NASDAQ: PRAN / ASX: PBT), announced today that the company has received a grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) to support the initiation of pre-clinical studies which precede human trials of a novel treatment for Parkinson’s disease known as PBT434. Prana, a leading Australian biotechnology company, is developing a range of highly unique treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. The funding was awarded by the well-known foundation after a highly competitive, international, peer-reviewed process. The support comes from the MJFF’s 2011 Pipeline Program to support its Therapeutic Development Initiative.
“It is our hope that PBT434 will provide treatment from very early diagnosis to prevent the damage to the part of brain (the substantia nigra) which is responsible for normal movement, thus preventing the loss of physical coordination and control experienced by Parkinson’s disease patients,” said Geoffrey Kempler, Prana’s Executive Chairman.
PBT34 appears to be able to to impede the iron-induced oxidative damage and neurotoxic cascade that kills neurons. “There is evidence to show that the onset of Parkinson’s disease is associated with an increase in iron in the cells of the substantia nigra, the part of the brain that is progressively destroyed in Parkinson’s disease,” said Associate Professor Robert Cherny, Prana’s Head of Research . “We are particularly encouraged by data that suggests that the neuroprotective effects of PBT434 are accompanied by a significant decrease in the toxic accumulation of the alpha synuclein protein, a hallmark of Parkinson’s disease pathology. Collectively, the neuroprotective properties of PBT434 indicate that there may be potential to develop the drug as a disease modifying agent”.
“We are very pleased to receive this award that will help us move PBT434 closer to the clinic. In addition to Phase 2 trials in Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease with PBT2 planned for later this year, the advancement of PBT434 for Parkinson’s disease reinforces our commitment to building shareholder value through product and disease diversification,” said Mr Kempler.
The MJFF grant marks the transition from basic preclinical research for Prana’s PBT434, the company’s lead Parkinson’s disease compound from its 700 strong MPAC compound library into the drug development pipeline. The initial grant of approximately $200,000 will be used to initiate the preclinical toxicology program needed before human testing.
Parkinson’s disease is a devastating illness which can result in not only the loss of muscle control, speech, balance and digestive functions; it may also impair a patient’s psychiatric and cognitive function. With 4 million people affected worldwide, Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological indication behind Alzheimer’s disease. The current market size for drugs to treat Parkinson’s disease is approx. $4 billion per year; however most currently available drugs primarily treat the symptoms and do not actually prevent the ongoing destruction of the substantia nigra in the brain and progression of the disease.