SAN DIEGO, Jan. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- An international team of researchers from UC San Diego School of Medicine and St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre/University of Manitoba have identified potential treatments for peripheral neuropathy, an unmet health need affecting nearly one in 15 Americans. Published today in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, their results identify small molecule drugs with neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties that prevent and reverse neuronal injury in animal models of metabolic, chemical and infection related peripheral neuropathy.
WinSanTor Inc. has exclusively licensed the technology from these institutes. Founded by this same team, WinSanTor was formed to accelerate the development of the first disease modifying treatments for peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy manifests in people as weakness, pain, and/or numbness generally in the hands, arms, feet, and legs.
"Peripheral neuropathy is a major and often neglected health problem affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world, including a majority of diabetes patients," said Stanley Kim, co-founder and CEO of WinSanTor. "Today's medications focus on treating pain, one symptom of the disease. However, this is ineffective for the majority of patients, and there are no approved treatments to address nerve degeneration, the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy."
The group showed that adult peripheral sensory neurons exhibit ongoing constraint of mitochondrial function and axon regenerative capacity via muscarinic receptors. Inhibiting muscarinic receptors protected peripheral neurons from ongoing metabolic or chemical injury and enhanced axonal regeneration. The paper further describes the role of mitochondrial function as an important target for treating peripheral neuropathy, and the potential for small molecule antagonists of muscarinic receptors to correct mitochondrial dysfunction.
"This data furthers our understanding of peripheral neuropathy and opens the possibility that the process of peripheral nerve degeneration may be therapeutically reversible," said Mr. Kim. "Moreover, utilizing existing drugs and their history as a base for developing a pipeline of a specific class of drugs to target mitochondrial dysfunction in peripheral neuropathy allows us to rapidly translate these findings to clinical studies, and to patients. At the end of the day, our focus is on delivering a new medicine that can really help patients with peripheral neuropathy."
WinSanTor and its founders have identified a lead compound, WST-057, a proprietary repurposing and reformulation of a well-characterized drug with an established safety history, WinSanTor has completed preclinical efficacy studies showing WST-057 prevents and reverses mitochondrial dysfunction, nerve fiber depletion, and sensory loss in several distinct animal models of peripheral neuropathy. WST-057 is now in Phase 1 clinical trials and plans to advance to proof-of-concept Phase 2 human trials later in 2017.
WinSanTor has received financial support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the St. Boniface Hospital Foundation, and JDRF.
WinSanTor is a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on accelerating development of the first treatment to prevent and reverse peripheral neuropathy, beginning with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Currently, there is no U.S. FDA-approved treatment for diabetic neuropathy, a condition that afflicts over 420 million worldwide who suffer from diabetes. WinSanTor's lead compound, WST-057, is a well-characterized previously-approved drug with an established safety history that has been used for many years against an unrelated indication. The company is also investigating the drug's potential to treat other common forms of peripheral neuropathy. WinSanTor was founded with the vision that recent scientific insights into the biological processes underlying degenerative diseases offer an unprecedented opportunity to discover and develop effective medicines. More at www.winsantor.com.
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SOURCE WinSanTor Inc.