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GEN News Highlights : Jun 12, 2013

Aphios, VivaCell to Develop Cannabinoid-Based Drugs for MS, CNS Disorders

Clinical-stage biotech company Aphios and Córdoba, Spain-based firm VivaCell Biotechnology España are joining forces to develop therapeutics for multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases of the central nervous system (CNS). Aphios and VivaCell have executed research and commercialization agreements to develop these drug candidates through preclinical studies, clinical development, and commercialization in the U.S. and Europe.

Researchers at the University of Córdoba and Cajal Institute (Spain) in collaboration with VivaCell Biotechnology recently discovered a class of nonpsychotropic cannabinoids that reportedly has multiple activities on key molecular targets involved in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, with very positive in vitro and in vivo data. “In vitro experiments have demonstrated that these compounds activate the PPARy pathway and bind to CB2 receptors showing both anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective activities,” Eduardo Muñoz, Ph.D., CSO of VivaCell, said. “In vivo experiments have shown that they cross the blood-brain barrier and inhibit neuroinflammation in well-defined animal models of multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease.”

This class of nonpsychotropic cannabinoids “could have a significant impact on multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s disease,” according to Trevor P. Castor, Ph.D., president and CEO of Aphios. He added, “We will apply our enabling technology platforms to enhance the oral bioavailability of these first-in-class compounds, bypass first-round metabolism in the liver, improve safety, and increase therapeutic efficacy.”