The Bluerockers have started

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On the 8th June, BlueRock Therapeutics put out a press release announcing that the first participant in their Phase I clinical trial of cell transplantation for Parkinson’s had been dosed (Click here to read the press release).

The initiation of this clinical trial by the company is a major step forward for them and for the wider field of regenerative therapies.

In today’s post, we will look at what cell transplantation is, recent developments in clinical trials, and what the immediate future holds. 

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Source: The Scientist

Here on the SoPD, we work around the idea that any “curative therapy” for Parkinson’s is going to require three core components:

  1. A disease halting mechanism
  2. A neuroprotective agent
  3. Some form of restorative therapy

Parkinson’s is a progressive neurodegenerative condition, meaning that symptoms are gradually going to get worse over time. Thus, the first and most critical component of any ‘cure’ for Parkinson’s involves a treatment that will slow down or halt the progression of the condition.

Once such a therapy has been identified, it will be necessary to rejuvenate and protect the remaining cells. So, some form of neuroprotective therapy that can help bring sick or dying cells back to life will be required.

Such a treatment will also provide a nurturing environment for the third part of the ‘cure’: A restorative treatment. New cells will be required to replace the lost function.

Now, the bad news is (as far as I am aware) there is no single treatment currently available (or being tested) that can do all three of these things. By this I mean that there is no “disease halting mechanism” therapy that can also replace lost brain cells. Nor is there a restorative therapy that stop the progression of the condition.

That statement can obviously be read as terrible news, but it shouldn’t.

Let me explain:

Continue reading “The Bluerockers have started”

Bayer doubles down on Parkinson’s?

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News today of two biotech companies merging did not cause much of a ripple in the media, but the wider implications of the move are rather significant for Parkinson’s.

Today it was announced that Brain Neurotherapy Bio (BNB) is going to merge with Asklepios Biopharmaceutical (aka AskBio). BNB are currently clinically testing a GDNF gene therapy approach for Parkinson’s, and AskBio is a subsidary of the large Pharmaceutical company Bayer.

This is the same ‘Bayer’ that last year bought BlueRock Therapeutics – a biotech company focused on cell transplantation for Parkinson’s (Click here to read a previous SoPD post about that).

In today’s post, we will discuss what BNB are doing and why this merger is particularly interesting.

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Source: BBRF

One of the themes this year on the SoPD website has been an effort to highlight (and encourage) more focus on alternative restorative therapies for Parkinson’s. There are a lot of different approaches exploring very different methods of slowing the progression of Parkinson’s, but most of the current clinical efforts investigating restorative therapies are oriented solely around cell transplantation.

What we really need are some novel strategies for replacing what is lost and encouraging re-growth from cells that remain.

Most of the SoPD posts exploring this idea during 2020 have been looking at very blue sky ideas (Click here, here, here and here to read some examples). But we have also been keeping an eye on biotech efforts in this domain, and today we received some interesting news which involved the merger of two biotech companies.

The merger occurred between Asklepios Biopharmaceutical (aka AskBio) and Brain Neurotherapy Bio.

ASKBio is a “gene therapy company dedicated to improving the lives of patients with rare diseases and other genetic disorders“. Gene therapy involves using DNA to treat medical conditions, rather than drugs. The DNA is usually delivered to the tissue requiring correction by carefully engineered viruses.

Brain Neurotherapy Bio is also a gene therapy biotech company that is currently clinically testing a GDNF gene therapy approach for Parkinson’s.

What is GDNF?

Continue reading “Bayer doubles down on Parkinson’s?”

When Bluerock became Bayer

 

Cell replacement therapy is a key component of any “cure” for Parkinson’s – replacing the cells that have been lost over the course of the condition.

Cell transplantation of dopamine neurons has a long track record of both preclinical and clinical development and represents the most developed of the cell replacement approaches.

Two weeks ago, the biotech firm BlueRock Therapeutics announced an agreement under which the pharmaceutical company Bayer AG would fully acquire the company.

In today’s post we will discuss why this is major news for the Parkinson’s community and an important development for the field of cell replacement therapy.

 


Source: Wikipedia

On the 8th August, Bayer AG and BlueRock Therapeutics announced an agreement under which Bayer will “fully acquire BlueRock Therapeutics, a privately held US-headquartered biotechnology company focused on developing engineered cell therapies in the fields of neurology, cardiology and immunology, using a proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform” (Source).

What is BlueRock Therapeutics?

BlueRock is a biotech firm that was foundered in 2016 as a joint venture between the investment firm Versant Ventures and Leaps by Bayer (with US$225 Million in Series A Financing).

Versant Ventures is a leading venture capital firm that specializes in investing “in game changing biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other life science opportunities”. Leaps by Bayer is an effort by the Pharmaceutical company Bayer at “spearheading a movement to make paradigm-shifting advances in the life sciences – targeting the breakthroughs that could fundamentally change the world for the better”.

The news on the 8th August means Bayer will acquire the remaining stake for approximately US$240 million in cash (to be paid upfront) and an additional US$360 million which will be payable upon the achievement of certain pre-defined development milestones.

Given that Bayer currently holds 40.8% stake in BlueRock Therapeutics, this announcement values the company at approximately US$1 billion.

Interesting, but what exactly does BlueRock do?

Continue reading “When Bluerock became Bayer”

Aspirin: Barking up the right tree?

 

Aspirin is one of the oldest drugs in medical use today.

Recently researchers noticed something interesting about ‘low doses’ of aspirin that could have implications for Parkinson’s: It raises the amount of dopamine in the brain

Specifically, low doses of aspirin triggers an increase in the levels of an enzyme called tyrosine hydroxylase, which is involved in the production of chemical dopamine. Given that levels of dopamine are severely reduced in the brain of a person with Parkinson’s, this new result is kind of interesting.

In today’s post, we will have a look at what aspirin and tyrosine hydroxylase are, what the new research results report, and what this could mean for the Parkinson’s community.

 


Source: Ancientpages

The Ebers Papyrus (also known as the also known as Papyrus Ebers) is considered one of the most oldest medicinal “encyclopedias”.

It outlines 700 Egyptian medicinal formulas and remedies dating back to circa 1550 BC. We know nothing about who wrote the document (even the source of the papyrus is unknown – it may have been found with a mummy in the El-Assasif district of the Theban necropolis).

One thing is clear though: the people who wrote it were a very far sighted bunch.

Interestingly, the papyrus mentions use of Willow bark and Myrtle to treat fever and pain. Both of these plants are rich in Salicylic acid.

What is Salicylic acid?

It is an active precursor (or metabolite) of acetylsalicylic acid – which is also known as ‘Aspirin’.

Source: Labmuffin

What exactly is aspirin?

Continue reading “Aspirin: Barking up the right tree?”