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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Small Canadian start-up providing new hope for treating neurodegenerative diseases

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Scientists have searched for decades for ways to remedy the devastating damage caused by neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, but no significant breakthrough has been made – until now.

Treatments at present can only “modify” (slow down or mitigate) the destructive effects on the human body caused by the mass death of neurons in the brain or spine.

A small Canadian-headquartered biotech start-up is offering new hope to tens of millions of sufferers of neurodegenerative diseases.

With Phase 1 clinical trials already underway, NervGen Pharma says it’s on-track to become a big breakthrough thanks to its blockbuster drug candidate—NVG-291.

NVG-291 is a peptide (a small protein) that works by targeting the protein tyrosine phosphatase sigma (PTPσ) receptor that blocks nerve repair following injury, whether from trauma or conditions such as MS or Alzheimer’s disease.

NervGen targets nerve cell repair, while promoting plasticity to create new neural pathways.

NVG-291 is the brainchild of Dr Jerry Silver, a renowned spinal cord injury and regenerative medicine researcher whose pioneering work addresses a diversity of conditions defined by a compromised central nervous system.

These include degenerative diseases, spinal cord damage, stroke and traumatic brain injury.

Researchers are at present conducting trials in healthy volunteers and this will transition to studies for several of these medical aliments.

In particular, the company has stepped up its interest in NVG-291’s ability to tackle Alzheimer’s disease.

The company works with Dr Ksenia Kastanenka of Massachusetts General Hospital – which has a long history of supporting cutting-edge research and innovation in medical research – to study NVG-291 in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s also preparing to enter a Phase 1b clinical trial for Alzheimer’s patients in 2022 following ongoing Phase 1 safety trials for the drug candidate.

According to NervGen’s CEO, Paul Brennan, the multiple preclinical studies that the company are conducting, as well as its planned Phase 1b study, are important milestones for their Alzheimer’s program, which, if successful, will provide a meaningful benefit to patients and significant potential for NervGen.

“What differentiates NVG-291 from other drugs in development is that it leverages multiple mechanisms for repairing nerve damage, while most others focus on a single approach. Alzheimer’s disease is a complex condition and likely caused by multiple factors,” Brennan says.

“We believe that a systems approach to treating the disease is an important distinction.”

Brennan adds that NVG-291’s ability to remyelinate and enhance plasticity is a ‘one-two knockout punch’ for repairing a faulty central nervous system, which is the end result on a diversity of neurodegenerative diseases, as well as traumatic brain and spinal injuries.

“NVG-291 would herald a revolutionary new paradigm in treating all of these chronically debilitating conditions,” he says.

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