UT Southwestern Medical Center, along with 2M Companies and Calico, are collaborating to advance research and drug development for neurodegenerative disorders caused by the aging and death of nerve cells. According to a UT Southwestern Medical Center news release, UT Southwestern researchers have recently published a new paper about the molecular target of P7C3 compounds, which is a class that has been shown to help in various animal models of neurodegeneration. UT Southwestern previously licensed the P7C3 compounds to Dallas-based 2M Companies.

2M and Calico have now entered into a new license agreement under which Calico will take responsibility for developing and commercializing the compounds resulting from the research program, as indicated on the UT Southwestern news release. Per the agreement, Calico will fund research laboratories in the Dallas area and elsewhere to support the program.

The UT Southwestern news release indicates that the death of nerve cells is the key mechanism in many devastating neurological diseases for which there are presently insufficient treatment options. The P7C3 compounds discovered by the researchers have previously been shown to be effective in animal models of age-related neurocognitive impairment, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and depression.

Research published in Cell shows that these drugs activate a cellular enzyme involved in energy metabolism, known as NAMPT, which is vital to the proper functioning of nerve cells. Additional research reveals that the P7C3 compounds protect against brain dysfunction when administered to rodents following traumatic injury.

The UT Southwestern licensing agreement was entered into in 2010 with 2M Companies, and the UT Southwestern news release notes that the recent agreement between 2M and Calico is an important step in the process to commercialize these compounds. Calico is the life sciences company led by Arthur D. Levinson.

Steven McKnight, PhD, states, “Over the past decade Andrew Pieper, Joe Ready, and I have worked collaboratively to discover, characterize, and optimize the P7C3 class of neuroprotective chemicals. We are excited to join forces with Art Levinson and the Calico team to advance our scientific discoveries toward clinical and commercial objectives.”

Hal V. Barron, MD, president of research and development at Calico, says, “We look forward to working with the world-leading scientists who discovered the P7C3 class of molecules to learn whether the remarkable biological effects can be translated to the treatment of human disease.”

[Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center]