By Rachael Green, Benzinga
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iMetabolic BioPharma (iMBP), an early-stage TechBio drug discovery company blending technology with biotechnology, launched a crowdfunding campaign on StartEngine to raise capital from individual investors as it makes plans to move into the neurodegenerative disease space with its addition of an Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic program.
Approximately 6 million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that so far has no cure and cannot be reversed. Existing treatments are focused on either slowing the progression of the disease or improving symptoms, but so far only limited progress has been made on either route. As numbers climb to an estimated 13 million by 2050, there is an urgent need for treatments that can make a meaningful difference in patients’ lives.
Alzheimer’s Disease Remains One Of The Most Difficult-to-Treat Diseases
Of the 143 drugs currently in the development pipeline for Alzheimer’s disease, 83% are aimed at disease modification, meaning they are supposed to slow the progression of the disease by targeting the underlying factors that contribute to it. Of those, the most well-known, well-funded and clinically advanced are the monoclonal antibodies meant to target beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are thought to disrupt cell communication and eventually kill brain cells. However, results so far have generally shown limited benefits and serious safety concerns.
Aduhelm, Biogen’s (NASDAQ: BIIB) Alzheimer’s disease treatment specifically targeting beta-amyloid plaque, for example, was recently the subject of an 18-month congressional investigation. The investigation was sparked by controversy surrounding the FDA’s decision to approve the drug despite a lack of data about its safety and efficacy. While clinical trials confirmed that Aduhelm was effective at removing these amyloid plaques in the brain, the data on its ability to actually slow down cognitive decline were mixed.
In partnership with Eisai (OTCMKTS: ESAIY), another Biogen drug candidate, Leqembi, which also targets the same beta-amyloid plaque component as Aduhelm, was granted accelerated approval last November after the drug demonstrated the ability to slow down cognitive decline. Patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease-related impairment reported a 27% improvement compared to a control group that received no treatment. However, the clinical data also revealed highly significant safety concerns which include a risk of brain swelling and brain bleeding. These safety concerns were also reported with Aduhelm.
Other therapeutic approaches that are currently being investigated include:
Tau protein amyloid plaques. Tau is a protein that plays a key role in the structures that transport nutrients between cells in the brain. In Alzheimer’s disease, these proteins often get twisted or tangled, blocking their beneficial transport function while instigating amyloid plaque formation along with beta-amyloid. So some developers are working on treatments that can prevent this tau tangling and plaque formation.
Neuro Inflammation. Alzheimer’s disease causes chronic, low-level brain cell inflammation. This chronic inflammation damages brain cells and results in increased rates of cell death. This inflammation is also known to significantly damage the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This structure is essential for controlling the brain’s surrounding environment and metabolism. Therefore, drugs that target brain inflammation may be able to slow down the process of cell damage and death, as well as mitigate alterations to the brain environment that contribute to the cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer’s disease.
Lipid (fat) metabolism. The brain accounts for only 2% of the human body but accounts for 20% of its overall metabolic need. Composed of more than 50% lipid, the brain's fat metabolic function and needs are grossly overlooked when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease. One aspect of people aging is that omega-3 fatty acid levels decline and lipids become more vulnerable to degradation from oxidative stress. Abnormal lipid composition in the brain may contribute to BBB deterioration, disrupt cell signaling, and further increase inflammation. Current lipid targeting therapies do so either by attempting to increase levels of protective lipids, like HDL cholesterol or omega-3 fatty acids or by blocking lipid oxidation.
iMBP’s New Drug Program Takes Aim At Alzheimer’s Disease
iMetabolic BioPharma already has multiple drug programs in its pipeline targeting a range of diseases like cardiometabolic and cardiovascular disease. Now, iMBP is entering the neurodegenerative disease market with the addition of a fifth therapeutic program which is focused on Alzheimer’s disease.
Their novel therapeutic program is still in the discovery phase, but its innovation makes it a stand-alone approach in the Alzheimer’s disease drug space. iMBP’s therapeutic approach and candidate molecules were designed to address Alzheimer’s disease from three different angles at once. Leveraging the latest research and treatment advances, this cutting-edge innovation is targeting amyloid plaque formation, brain inflammation and lipid metabolism.
The therapeutic candidates supporting this three-pronged approach were engineered using iMBP’s proprietary iPlatform™ technology, a machine learning software enabling in-silico therapeutic discovery and molecular design. The technology’s purpose is to help iMBP researchers identify and design the most promising drug candidates for enhanced therapeutic benefit while simultaneously mitigating risk. The iPlatform™ is TechBio, technology-enhanced biotechnology, allowing iMBP scientists to quickly and efficiently screen through millions of candidate molecules with a high degree of accuracy so they can weed out higher-risk molecules. This selection process enhances the biological attributes and function of these molecules with the intent of providing a higher probability of successfully making it through pre-clinical and clinical testing.
Using iPlatform™, the biopharma company hopes to offer a more effective, more affordable Alzheimer’s disease treatment that offers meaningful benefits to the growing number of people suffering from the neurodegenerative disease, not just in the United States but around the world.
To that end, iMBP appointed Dr. Malú Gámez Tansey to its team of scientific advisors. Dr. Tansey comes with a strong background in neurodegenerative disease research, including a focus on the role of inflammation and the immune system in the development of these diseases.
“I am excited to be working with the forward-thinking scientific leadership at iMBP because they have recognized the importance of obesity-related disorders to risk for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s,” Dr. Tansey said in a statement, adding, “iMBP is leveraging the vast amount of knowledge accrued by the metabolism field to deliver personalized medicine using their cutting-edge drug development computational platform to create more effective therapies.”
Having already raised more than $1.35 million in funding to date, the additional capital from their recent crowdfunding campaign will allow the company to further develop its innovative iPlatform™ technology as well as invest in pre-clinical testing of its existing therapeutic programs. Learn more about the crowdfunding campaign and iMBP’s tech-powered pipeline here.
This article was originally published on Benzinga here.
iMetabolic Biopharma Corporation (iMBP) is an early-stage drug discovery company innovating at the intersection of technology and biotechnology to develop new, life-saving drugs to fight against some of today's most devastating chronic diseases affecting our loved ones. Currently, we are pre-market, advancing five different disease asset programs, and in the process of developing a proprietary technological platform for the discovery of more effective and less expensive drugs. This will allow us to continuously expand our drug pipeline while increasing company value.
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