The Polish drug discovery and service provider Selvita has announced a new collaboration with the University of Oxford to advance the development of Parkinson’s disease therapies.

Parkinson’s is caused by a build-up of alpha-synuclein, a small protein, forming aggregates inside vulnerable neurons. Cells are then unable to efficiently clear these aggregates, potentially killing neurons and allowing the disease to progress.

The team at Oxford, led by George Tofaris, PhD, Professor of Neurology and Translational Neuroscience at the university, has identified key protein disposal factors that affect alpha-synuclein aggregation. Selvita believes these could be important drug targets for disease modification, preventing its progression further, as per a 5 June press release.

In an email to Pharmaceutical Technology, a Selvita spokesperson stated the company’s plans to build from the team’s research to develop protein degraders. By combining academic knowledge of the disease’s biology from Oxford, and Selvita’s own technical drug discovery capabilities, the company believes the collaboration best positioned them to develop protein degraders.

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, with roughly seven million people affected worldwide. Despite this, existing treatments are only symptomatic, unable to slow or stop the disease’s progression.

A GlobalData analysis found a lack of disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) for Parkinson’s was one of the highest unmet needs. Any company that could provide DMTs would have ample opportunities for market entry, as they could bring about a major shift in patient treatment.

GlobalData is the parent company of Pharmaceutical Technology.

Across the seven major markets (US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Spain and Italy) the market for Parkinson’s disease treatment is set to grow significantly over the next few years, from $4.6bn in 2023 to $11.5bn. The US market is driving this growth, forecasted to nearly triple from $2.4bn in 2023 to $7.4bn by 2029, as per GlobalData.

At this stage, the Selvita spokesperson said it would be premature to commit to any development timeline, but added that they were hopeful to see applications go to trial in the future.

Early R&D projects coverage on Pharmaceutical Technology is supported by Mimotopes.

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