SAN DIEGO, Sept. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Plex Pharmaceuticals (registered as CalAsia Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), announced today that it has been awarded a two year SBIR Phase I grant of $299,173 from The NIH's National Eye Institute. Under this funding, Plex will employ its proprietary fragment-based screening technology combined with in silico and structure-based drug design to discover small molecule lead candidates targeting the small heat shock protein-27s (sHSP27), also known as alpha-crystallins (AC's). AC's are one the major components of the eye lens that help maintain its transparency. Loss of AC function leads to aggregation of damaged and/or aged proteins leading to the formation of cataracts.
"Given the similarities between the blood-ocular and blood-brain barrier and the challenges in developing drugs that can effectively cross these barriers, Plex's platform technology, which focuses on the discovery of barrier-crossing (CNS and ocular) compounds, will allow us to develop 'drug-like' leads for the development of safe and effective anti-cataract agents," said Dr. G. Sridhar Prasad, PhD, Principal Investigator and Chief Scientific Officer.
Dr. Allan Rubenstein, MD, Chairman, added: "this further emphasizes Plex's focus and drug discovery expertise in finding drugs for diseases associated with protein misfolding and aggregation, which includes Cataracts, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) and Parkinson's disease." Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, particularly in developing countries. The only treatment currently available is surgical extraction of the cataract and replacement with an intraocular lens.
About Plex Pharmaceuticals: Plex Pharmaceuticals is an early-stage biotechnology company, which is focusing its drug discovery expertise on diseases caused by protein misfolding: ALS, Parkinson's disease and cataracts. CalAsia Pharmaceuticals, the predecessor to Plex Pharmaceuticals, was founded in 2009 and raised almost $3,300,000 in non-dilutive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and The Michael J. Fox Foundation to support its efforts in fragment-based screening and structure-based drug design. Plex's ALS effort is built around the work of Scientific Advisory Board member Dr. Arthur Horwich, Yale University School of Medicine. Dr. Horwich was one of the co-discoverers of the protein chaperone machinery, for which he received Lasker Award and Albany Prize. Plex Pharmaceuticals additionally has a development program on a novel brain-penetrant heat shock protein 90 (HSP90)/TNF Receptor Associated Protein-1 (TRAP1) inhibitor for glioblastoma.
Dr. G. Sridhar Prasad, PhD
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SOURCE Plex Pharmaceuticals