Portuguese company hopes to licence drug that prevents Parkinson’s progression

A company based in Covilhã is in the process of finalising pre-clinical tests on an enzyme responsible for producing oxidative stress that can be shaped to levels that prevent the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

NeuroSoV has contacts scheduled with companies in the pharmaceutical industry to whom it plans to sell the licence for the molecule it has been working on so that clinical trials can be carried out and, if everything goes as expected, the drug candidate can be made available on the market, a lengthy and expensive process, said one of the co-founders of the spin-off from the University of Beira Interior (UBI), Dina Pereira.

“The idea is that the clinical trials will be carried out by an industry that buys the licence from us. This is what’s going to happen,” added the PhD in Industrial Engineering and Management, who emphasised the very promising prospects and the contacts they’ve had from “pharmas”.

She predicts that this process will take place by the first quarter of 2024.

Neuroscientist Ana Clara Cristóvão, who has been researching neurodegenerative diseases for 17 years, explained to Lusa that the detected enzyme responsible for producing oxidative stress, which in Parkinson’s disease has a pathological function because it contributes to the death of neurons that produce neurotransmitters that help with motor control, can be adjusted to levels that prevent the progression of the disease and allow patients to remain in the first stage of the disease, with independence and almost normal life.

The pre-clinical tests, in which long-term safety trials have yet to be carried out, have made it possible to conclude for the time being, based on observations made on rats in which the disease was induced, that treatment with the molecule under investigation prevents the animals from developing the motor dysfunction that normally occurs in Parkinson’s disease, emphasised the co-founder of NeuroSov, which is based at UBImedical, an incubator for companies in the health and life sciences fields.

Ana Clara Cristóvão explained that what exists on the market helps patients deal with the symptoms of the disease, while the molecule they are working on is not intended to replace this solution but to make the neurons that are still functional in the patient remain functional and alive for longer so that they respond more effectively to the therapies that exist on the market for the symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease, which still has no cure.

“The other lines of research are very much focused on correcting genetic mutations that exist in a proportion of Parkinson’s patients. Ours does not have a general therapeutic target that controls different pathological mechanisms,” said the assistant professor at UBI’s Faculty of Health Sciences and a researcher at the Health Sciences Research Centre.

Those responsible for NeuroSoV emphasised that the company is not dedicated to production but to development and research and revealed that they are working on using a method that also allows for the prevention of oxidative processes in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

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