NRG Therapeutics has received a $3.4m (£2.68m) grant for funding the pre-clinical development of its new small molecule disease-modifying therapies to treat Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron disease (MND), and various other chronic neurodegenerative disorders.

Partially funded by the government-backed agency Innovate UK, this early-stage Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) award will support a two-year project to be initiated this month.

The latest award will progress mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP) inhibitors of the company, from lead optimisation, through to the conclusion of investigational new drug application (IND)-enabling GLP-toxicology studies with its lead asset. 

NRG is leveraging science in the mitochondrial biology field for developing therapies to treat Parkinson’s, MND (also called ALS), and possibly other neurodegenerative ailments. 

The company’s method is based on hindering the mPTP in brain cells, which was demonstrated to be neuroprotective in various preclinical Parkinson’s and MND models.

In addition, in vitro, its investigational new therapies were found to offer protection to mitochondria and avert brain cell death.

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This indicates the drugs’ potential to hinder or substantially slow the disease progression in Parkinson’s or MND patients.

If successful, the project would offer the first disease-modifying drug to prevent or delay the progression of the disease in Parkinson’s patients who are presently treated through disease symptom management only. 

The company is also pursuing a new pathological mechanism in MND that was detected by its partners in Australia in 2020. 

NRG Therapeutics co-founder and CEO Dr Neil Miller said: “Mitochondrial dysfunction is a common underlying pathology in many degenerative diseases and there is a substantial body of preclinical data available which demonstrates that inhibition of the mPTP in the brain prevents neuronal cell death, reduces neuroinflammation, and extends survival in animals.

“With our unique discoveries, NRG is in a leadership position in this field to develop first-in-class CNS-penetrant mPTP inhibitors.”