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Myelin Foundation to Assess Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

Neuron illustration (NIH)

(National Institute on Aging, NIH)

Myelin Repair Foundation in Saratoga, California is collaborating with drug development company Bionure Inc. in Barcelona, Spain to evaluate Bionure’s compound BN201 as a therapy candidate for multiple sclerosis. Financial aspects of the agreement were not disclosed.

Multiple sclerosis is a condition where the immune system attacks the central nervous system and damages the fatty, protective substance around nerve fibers known as myelin, as well as nerve cells themselves. Scar tissue from the damaged myelin, known as sclerosis, distorts the nerve signals sent to and from the brain and spinal cord, causing symptoms ranging from mild numbness to loss of vision or paralysis.

Bionure develops therapies for multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders, by licensing research discoveries from university and research institute labs, and devising candidates through preclinical and early clinical stages. The company says it uses technologies such as systems biology and combinatorial chemistry to discover promising compounds and non-animal lab models for initial testing.

BN201 is a compound developed at Bionure as a potential treatment for acute optic neuritis associated with multiple sclerosis and severe relapses of the disorder. Optic neuritis is inflammation of the optic nerve that transmits visual information from the eye to the brain, leading to pain and temporary vision loss, and is considered an indicator of multiple sclerosis.

Myelin Repair Foundation will evaluate BN201′s capabilities to protect nerve fibers and encourage the restoration of myelin lost as a result of multiple sclerosis. The foundation is expected to test BN201 in its Translational Medicine Center lab, which opened in 2012. Work at the lab, says the foundation, is designed to ensure consistent  cell cultures, assays, animal models, and human test tissue to improve the odds of successful clinical trials.

In August, Myelin Repair Foundation began a collaboration with biopharmaceutical company Gencia Corp. in Charlottesville, Virginia to evaluate its candidates for myelin repair. Gencia develops biologics and small molecule compounds to treat disorders of the central nervous system, as well as diseases related to inflammation and genetic disorders.

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