Lucy Therapeutics (LucyTx), a biotech with a unifying mitochondrial platform, today announces it secured funding from The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF), a nonprofit funder of Parkinson’s disease research.

The grant, valued at $4.9 million, will be used for continued investment into LucyTx’s mitochondrial platform, including the development of potential novel medicines. This platform has led to the identification of compounds in advanced lead optimization, moving LucyTx closer to identification of preclinical candidates for Parkinson’s disease and Rett Syndrome. This additional capital will accelerate LucyTx’s mission to advance therapeutics for CNS diseases through focus on “disease-bottleneck” targets rather than genetically implicated targets.

Through the MJFF grant, LucyTx will also gain access to a network of advisors from MJFF staff and its many external partners working in this field. The two-year project will help generate supporting efficacytoxicological and biomarker data for LucyTx’s Parkinson’s program as well as identify other key targets that modulate rate-limiting steps of Parkinson’s pathology.

Traditionally, drug discovery efforts have focused increasingly on targets with direct genetic connections to neurological disease. The lack of a simple genetic correlation for the preponderance of patients with these diseases suggests that factors apart from genetic associations may represent key intervention points for these medical conditions. The increased understanding of the role that mitochondria and cellular bioenergetics plays in epigenetic modulation and chromatin/DNA accessibility provides evidence that metabolic processes may be equally, if not more important, in determining cellular fate beyond the genes themselves. LucyTx’s approach offers a solution since mitochondria represent a nexus point for the intersection of genetic and environmental factors critical to stopping disease progression.

“Our platform is developing small-molecule drugs for central nervous system diseases. Building on the scientific advances in the field and combined with those that we have made in the past three years, both our Parkinson’s and Rett disease programs are nearing development candidate nominations,” said Amy Ripka, PhD, Founder and CEO of Lucy Therapeutics. “The grant and support from MJFF helps us move more quickly toward our goal of treating more patients than genetic approaches can achieve alone.”

According to MJFF, the current incidence of Parkinson’s disease is estimated to be more than 6 million cases worldwide. The total cost of Parkinson’s in the U.S. is $52 billion every year, with $25.4 billion attributable to direct medical costs such as hospitalizations and medication, and $26.5 billion in non-medical costs like missed work, lost wages, early forced retirement and family caregiver time. Given projections over time, MJFF is estimating that Parkinson’s now costs our country $58 billion each year. Without the development of disease-modifying treatments, the number of Parkinson’s cases and financial burden are expected to increase rapidly as the population ages.

“MJFF funds promising research with a goal to significantly improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s and, one day, end this disease,” said Marco Baptista, PhD, MJFF Vice President of Research Programs. “LucyTx’s work to better understand mitochondria and to target this underlying pathology with novel drugs is an important effort toward that shared goal.”

[Source(s): Lucy Therapeutics, Business Wire]