June 15, 2022

Advancing Brain Health: Pioneering Solutions for Neurodegenerative Diseases

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Health Awareness month, a time to discuss the significance of brain health and the importance of taking proactive steps to maintain and enhance cognitive well-being. Neurodegenerative diseases cause progressive and irreversible damage to the brain, leading to cognitive decline, loss of independence, and significant burdens on caregivers. Investing in research and development enables life science companies to understand the underlying mechanisms of these diseases, identify early diagnostic markers, and develop effective treatments to slow down or halt their progression. Tremendous advancements have been made recently that improve patients’ quality of life, delay symptom onset, and reduce the economic and emotional toll on families and healthcare systems. As the global population ages, the prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases is expected to rise dramatically, making it even more crucial to discover effective interventions and preventive strategies.

More than 55 million people globally are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia today. Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and multiple sclerosis (MS) are other neurodegenerative diseases that affect the global population and are being researched extensively. Let’s look at a few Biocom California member companies working within the neurology space that are bringing hope, and are transforming the lives of millions of individuals affected by neurodegenerative conditions.

Game-Changing Alzheimer’s Therapies

Biogen, a key player in neurodegenerative disease research and development, mainly focuses on Alzheimer’s disease, with ongoing efforts to advance the understanding and treatment of this complex condition. The biotech giant has developed aducanumab, the first FDA approved disease-modifying therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, and lecanemab, another Alzheimer’s treatment which delays the course of the disease and received unanimous FDA panel support this week. Aducanumab works by removing beta-amyloid from the brain, while lecanemab works by blocking the formation of amyloid plaques. Biogen continues to explore and investigate additional approaches for Alzheimer’s treatment, including combination therapies, tau-targeting therapies, and potential biomarkers for early detection. Furthermore, Biogen is involved in research and clinical trials for other neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with the goal of developing innovative therapies to address unmet medical needs.

A Quest for Parkinson’s Breakthroughs

UCB has been making significant strides in the field of neurology with its latest developments. One notable area of focus is on Parkinson’s disease, where UCB is actively engaged in research and clinical programs aimed at understanding the disease mechanisms and improving treatment options. They are exploring novel approaches to address the unmet needs of Parkinson’s patients, including innovative therapies and disease-modifying interventions. UCB’s commitment to neuroscience extends beyond Parkinson’s, with ongoing efforts in other neurological disorders as well, most notably epilepsy. Through collaborations, clinical trials, and scientific advancements, UCB strives to make a meaningful impact in the lives of patients living with neurological conditions and to bring forth innovative solutions that can potentially transform the field of neurology.

Visionary Vaccine Shatter’s Alzheimer’s Barrier

Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical unit, has been actively involved in Alzheimer’s immunotherapy research, focusing on the development of potential treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Their latest efforts have been centered around exploring innovative approaches to target amyloid beta, a protein associated with the formation of plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Janssen partnered with AC Immune to develop an Alzheimer’s vaccine that attacks a type of tau which is believed to contribute to the disease. Following positive data from its phase 1b/2 trial, a new study is underway to test the safety and efficacy when patients are given double the dose with further data expected to be released later this year.

Unraveling the Brain’s Secrets

Huntington Medical Research Institutes (HMRI) is a renowned institution dedicated to advancing research and understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington’s disease. Their work encompasses a broad range of areas within neurodegeneration, including basic science research, clinical studies, and translational research aimed at developing innovative therapies. HMRI’s multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians is currently studying the brains of hundreds of healthy individuals to unravel the complexities of neurodegenerative diseases, identify potential biomarkers, investigate disease mechanisms, and explore therapeutic interventions. They’ve identified five biomarkers that they plan to use to create a test that predicts a person’s risk of neurodegenerative diseases before they develop symptoms. Through their ongoing efforts, HMRI contributes to the growing body of knowledge and fosters hope for advancements in the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.

Revolutionizing Neuroinflammatory Treatment

South San Francisco-based Therini Bio is focused on developing fibrin-targeted therapies for neuroinflammatory diseases. Their approach involves selectively blocking fibrin-induced inflammation without affecting its essential hemostatic role. With their lead candidate THN391, Therini Bio initiated a Phase 1 trial for Alzheimer’s disease last month, aiming to provide key safety and proof-of-mechanism data by 2024. The company recently closed a $36 million Series A financing round, supported by prominent investors including the Dementia Discovery Fund, Merck & Co., Sanofi Ventures, and SV Health Investors. With a total funding of $62 million, Therini Bio is poised to make significant strides in the field of fibrin-targeted therapies for inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases.