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Positive results for Australian company testing peptide to target glaucoma

Perth pharmaceutical company NeuroScientific Biopharmaceuticals (NSB) has announced its lead drug candidate slowed glaucoma-induced damage to the optic nerve, in findings that highlight its potential as a clinically useful treatment.

The pre-clinical efficacy study of its drug, EmtinB, conducted by the Lions Eye Institute in Perth, Western Australia, demonstrated the neuroprotective effect of the drug by slowing damage to the optic nerve caused by glaucoma. It produced statistically significant increases in neurofilaments and cytoskeleton proteins.

New findings released in a final report this week also showed it did not cause any toxicity in the tissues analysed during the study.

The trial simulated high intraocular pressure in a pig model, which was the closest experiment to replicate severe human glaucoma pathology. The positive results, the company claims, indicates the disease modifying potential of EmtinB.

“We strongly believe that our studies in rabbits, pigs and subsequently humans can lead to the paradigm shift in the glaucoma field and offer a new foundation for the development of novel mechanism-based therapy, and preventive intervention for glaucoma,” NSB chairman Mr Brian Leedman said.

“These studies may also have a wider impact on discovering the pathogenesis and therapeutics of other neurodegenerative disorders in the eye, brain and spinal cord such as macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis (MS) and spinal injury.”

Listed on the ASX in July 2018, NSB is developing peptide-based pharmaceutical drugs that target several neurodegenerative conditions that it claims have high unmet medical demand. The company’s product portfolio includes EmtinB, a therapeutic peptide initially targeting Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma, as well as other Emtin peptides which have demonstrated similar therapeutic potential as EmtinB.

A 3D representation of the EmtinB molecule.

Professor Dao-Yi Yu led the research team who performed the pig model glaucoma study at the Lions Eye Institute.

“The experiments went very well and it is encouraging that EmtinB has shown protective effects in this pig model of intraocular pressure elevation,” he said.

“Taken together with recent results from other groups, there seems to be real potential for EmtinB to be clinically useful in the treatment of glaucoma, the second most common cause of blindness in our community.”

NSB has also reported significant positive results of a preclinical study of EmtinB in an in vitro model for MS undertaken by independent research organisation Neuron Experts, in France.

The company stated it is progressing the safety and toxicology program of EmtinB to be concluded in the second half of this year, with first human studies scheduled for later this year.