Parkinson’s UK collaborates with Domainex on £3m project

Parkinson’s UK, the largest charitable funder of Parkinson’s research in Europe, and Cambridge company Domainex, have revealed a game-changing collaboration.

The alliance is focused on developing small molecule therapies targeting neuroinflammation that could slow the progression of Parkinson’s. 

Domainex, a leading integrated medicines research services partner based at Chesterford Research Park, will provide fully integrated drug discovery services including assay biology, medicinal and computational chemistry. 

The collaboration is anticipated to be undertaken over a two-and-a-half-year period, with Parkinson’s UK investing up to £3 million in the project via its drug development arm – the Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech. 

The innovative programme is plugging the funding gap to fast-track the projects with the greatest scientific potential to transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s.

Inflammation is vital for defending the body from infections, injuries and toxins. However, in Parkinson’s there is excessive chronic inflammation within the brain. 

It is now believed that this may play a role in the damage to brain cells which occurs in the condition. Previous work carried out by Parkinson’s UK has led to the identification of novel small molecules which target a protein found on the surface of microglia, the main immune cells in the brain that become overactive in Parkinson’s. 

Domainex will conduct integrated drug discovery in order to optimise the pharmaceutical properties of these molecules with the ultimate aim of nominating a clinical candidate. 

The goal is to develop a therapy with the potential to slow or stop the progression of Parkinson’s, something no current medication can do.

Tom Mander, CEO of Domainex, said: “We are thrilled to have been selected by Parkinson’s UK to work on this promising project which has the potential to improve the lives of 145,000 people living with Parkinson’s in the UK. 

“Domainex has built up significant expertise of working with several charities and patient foundations, including projects funded by the British Heart Foundation, CHDI Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, where we have utilised our extensive knowledge to add significant value. 

“We look forward to working with the team at Parkinson’s UK and supporting the wider Parkinson’s community to progress the development of potentially life-changing medicines. Having studied microglial cells during my DPhil and spent a good part of my early industrial career working on macrophage activation, I am especially interested to see whether a new therapy emerges from our partnership.”

Dr Richard Morphy, drug discovery manager at Parkinson’s UK, added: “Domainex was selected following an extensive review process on the basis of their experience and capability to execute a fully integrated drug discovery project, including the development of neuroinflammation assays and the optimisation of our compounds’ target engagement in the brain. 

“We’re delighted to work with Domainex and our other project partners to find compounds that can mitigate the damaging microglial over-activation in Parkinson’s. 

“The Parkinson’s Virtual Biotech is driven by the experiences and most pressing needs of the Parkinson's community. We’re excited to work with Domainex over the course of the project to engage and involve people living with the condition in this important work.”

Article sourced from: https://www.businessweekly.co.uk
Published on: 03.02.22