Asceneuron SA, a Lausanne, Switzerland-based developer of innovative small molecules for neurodegenerative diseases, has been awarded a research grant from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF).
The undisclosed grant will be used for the further development of positive allosteric modulators of the M1 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (M1 PAMs). M1 PAMs induce a change in the shape of the receptor, enhancing binding to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. As a result, receptor activity is potentiated so that it can fulfil its signaling functions, critical for cognition, even in situations where acetylcholine levels are reduced, as observed in dementia.
The grant from the MJFF Therapeutic Pipeline Program will support studies for the optimization of molecules to provide preclinical proof of concept in a relevant laboratory model.
Asceneuron has already identified suitable lead molecules and will use its expertise in the field of muscarinic acetylcholine receptors and CNS drug development to achieve this objective.
Led by Dirk Beher (PhD), chief executive officer and co-founder, Asceneuron is an emerging biotech company developing orally bioavailable therapeutics for serious neurodegenerative disorders such as orphan tauopathies, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
The lead product, an O-GlcNAcase inhibitor that in preclinical studies has been demonstrated to modulate tau pathology, is currently completing the critical regulatory studies to initiate human clinical testing.
The O-GlcNAcase inhibitor is being developed for the orphan tauopathy progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).
The company is financed by a syndicate of investors consisting of Sofinnova Partners, SR One, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. (JJDC), Kurma Partners and Merck Ventures.