Cambridge, MA, September 18, 2018 – Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately held pharmaceutical company, announced today that it has been awarded $287k Phase 1 Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute On Aging (NIA). The grant provides funding to further evaluate and advance its promising neuroprotectant drug candidate AST-004 for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nearly 50 million people worldwide are afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. The accumulation of amyloid beta (Aβ) and intraneuronal neurofibrillary tangles containing tau protein are critical drivers of the disease. More recently, astrocytes have been shown to participate in both clearance and degradation of Aβ1,2, and it was shown that astrocyte dysfunction can be detected prior to Aβ plaque formation3,4. Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals is investigating whether AST-004, which enhances astrocyte function, could potentially mitigate or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals is partnering with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (DBA UT Health San Antonio), and the labs of Dr. James Lechleiter and Dr. Veronica Galvan on the research. Preliminary data has already demonstrated that AST-004 treatment increased astrocyte and neuronal viability of brain tissue from mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease. “Targeting early astrocyte dysfunction is an exciting and novel approach, and the initial data is promising”, said Dr. Galvan. “We are excited to further assess the potential of AST-004 in longer term preclinical studies.”
Dr. James Lechleiter, Co-Founder of Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals and principal investigator for this project, commented, “the research community is searching for new mechanisms that can stop the progression of this devastating disease, and we’re pleased the NIA concurs with the importance and potential of our research.”
The research funded by the grant will start in 2018 and continue through 2020. For more information about Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals, please contact Dr. William Korinek at 617-444-8765 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a privately held drug development company dedicated to accelerating the recovery and well-being of brain injury patients. The company is committed to proving the neuroprotective benefits of enhancing astrocyte function, and advancing breakthrough therapeutic agents for treating brain injury resulting from stroke, TBI, concussion, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. In 2015, Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals entered into an exclusive, worldwide licensing agreement with UT Health San Antonio. The license grants Astrocyte Pharmaceuticals the exclusive use of patent rights owned by UT Health San Antonio.
Research support referred to in this press release will be supported by the National Institute On Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R41AG062163. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
- Guenette, S. Y. Astrocytes: a cellular player in Abeta clearance and degradation. Trends in molecular medicine 9, 279-280 (2003).
- Nicoll, J. A. & Weller, R. O. A new role for astrocytes: beta-amyloid homeostasis and degradation. Trends in molecular medicine 9, 281-282 (2003).
- Heneka, M. T. et al. Focal glial activation coincides with increased BACE1 activation and precedes amyloid plaque deposition in APP[V717I] transgenic mice. J Neuroinflammation 2, 22, doi:10.1186/1742-2094-2-22 (2005).
- Carter, S. F. et al. Evidence for astrocytosis in prodromal Alzheimer disease provided by 11C-deuterium-L-deprenyl: a multitracer PET paradigm combining 11C-Pittsburgh compound B and 18F-FDG. J Nucl Med 53, 37-46, doi:10.2967/jnumed.110.087031 (2012).