Alchemab lands Michael J Fox Foundation grant to advance Parkinson’s drug candidate

Antibody drug developer identifies the prostaglandin pathway as a potential factor in Parkinson’s disease progression and resistance.

British biotech Alchemab Therapeutics has received a grant from The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) to support a program targeting Parkinson’s disease with antibodies that modulate prostaglandin biology. The Cambridge-based company, which secured $82 million in Series A funding in 2021, aims to explore the therapeutic potential of antibodies derived from individuals who show resilience to Parkinson’s disease.

Alchemab focuses on leveraging the unique immune responses found in resilient individuals to develop novel drugs for challenging diseases that currently lack effective treatments. By examining naturally occurring antibodies in these individuals, the company aims to unlock the secrets of the human immune system’s ability to fend off diseases, leveraging advanced proteomics, bioinformatics, and machine learning to understand and replicate these protective immune responses.

This approach allows Alchemab to analyze vast patient datasets, such as the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative (PPMI), identifying signals and targets associated with disease resilience. In the case of Parkinson’s disease, the company has pinpointed the prostaglandin pathway as a potential key player in disease progression and resistance.

Prostaglandins are a group of lipid compounds that have diverse hormone-like effects in animals. They play a crucial role in inflammation and are believed to be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease. Funded by the MJFF, Alchemab’s research will focus on understanding how the prostaglandin pathway influences disease progression and whether modulating this pathway with specific antibodies can provide therapeutic benefits.

“This exciting program is another example of the power of a patient-led, unbiased approach to target and therapeutics discovery,” said Young Kwon, CEO of Alchemab. “Alongside our programs, which have the potential to impact frontotemporal dementia, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s disease, we hope that our novel Parkinson’s disease program will be transformative for patients and unlock new disease understanding.”

The grant from MJFF comes through its Parkinson’s Disease Therapeutics Pipeline Program, which aims to advance the development of promising treatments for the neurodegenerative disease. The program focuses on therapies that can prevent, halt, or delay disease progression, as well as those that alleviate daily symptoms.

“Alchemab has a unique approach to its research, and we are very much looking forward to seeing how this can identify new biomarkers and explore the role of inhibitory antibodies in Parkinson’s resilient individuals,” said Sohini Chowdhury, chief program officer at MJFF. “We hope that this work will expand new treatment pathways and bring hope to patients challenged by the disease.”

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