Eisai, Wren Therapeutics ink research agreement to advance discovery of novel small molecules targeting alpha-synuclein to treat synucleinopathies

TokyoTuesday, December 1, 2020, 13:00 Hrs  [IST]

Eisai Co., Ltd. and Wren Therapeutics Ltd. announced that the companies have entered into an exclusive research collaboration agreement aiming to advance the discovery of novel small molecules that target alpha-synuclein for the potential treatment of synucleinopathies including Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

Wren possesses a novel network kinetics drug discovery platform that precisely quantifies the effects of small molecules on the protein misfolding and aggregation pathway that causes neurodegenerative diseases. Wren's approach to synucleinopathies is focused on identifying novel small molecules that selectively control the aggregation process of alpha-synuclein, which is associated with the onset and progression of these diseases. The collaboration will use Wren's network kinetics drug discovery platform, alongside Eisai's extensive experience in drug discovery for neurodegenerative disorders, to accelerate the development of clinical candidates.

Dr Samuel Cohen, chief executive officer of Wren, commented: "We are delighted to have formed this collaboration with Eisai, a company with a distinguished track record and company-wide commitment to providing innovative treatments for patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. We believe that by combining our unique, predictive and quantitatively driven platform with Eisai's deep expertise in neurology, we can together advance highly differentiated small molecules targeting alpha-synuclein for the treatment of debilitating protein misfolding disorders such as Parkinson's disease."

Dr Teiji Kimura, vice president, chief discovery officer of the Eisai Neurology Business Group, commented: "Synucleinopathies such as dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson's disease represent a significant unmet medical need due to the lack of any effective disease-modifying treatments. The accumulation of alpha-synuclein oligomers with protein misfolding is an important hallmark of these diseases. The Wren team, with its world-renowned founding scientists, is pioneering a new and fundamentally different approach to addressing protein misfolding diseases. By integrating capabilities across both companies we expect this exciting collaboration to be uniquely successful in identifying novel disease-modifying therapeutics for patients suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson's disease and related disorders."

Wren's proprietary network kinetics drug discovery platform enables an entirely new approach to drug discovery, designed specifically to address the unique challenges associated with protein misfolding diseases. The kinetics-based approach solves for the distinct molecular reaction network that underlies each misfolding disease and produces a fully predictive, quantitative map of the network and its dynamics. The platform identifies the optimum intervention points in the network to reduce the populations of toxic misfolded and aggregated species, and subsequently makes it possible to identify and optimise molecules with the desired kinetics inhibitory activity.

Synucleinopathies are neurodegenerative diseases characterised by the aberrant misfolding and aggregation of alpha-synuclein in neurons and glial cells. Synucleinopathies include Parkinson's disease (PD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and multiple system atrophy (MSA).

Eisai Co., Ltd. is a leading global research and development-based pharmaceutical company headquartered in Japan.

Wren is a spin-off company from the University of Cambridge (UK) and Lund University (Sweden), focused on drug discovery and development for protein misfolding diseases. Wren is advancing an entirely novel approach to address this class of diseases, based on more than a decade of research from its scientific founders focused on the chemical kinetics of the protein misfolding process.