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Engendering the collaborative spirit to cure MS
SARATOGA, Calif.—In the spirit of true collaboration, the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF) and ENDECE Neural are partnering to find a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS). In a unique partnership, both parties are openly sharing their information and their strengths to target the neurodegenerative components of the disease.
Through the partnership, the MRF and ENDECE have become formidable allies in the battle against multiple sclerosis, a debilitating and fatal condition caused by the degeneration of the myelin sheath, the protective layer around the axon of a nerve cell. Caused by inflammation stemming from the body attacking its own immune system, the myelin begins to disappear, and with it begins to disappear the individual's ability to control his or her body.
Scientists at ENDECE have discovered a small-molecule compound that may be able to repair the axon and thus reverse the symptoms of MS. The compound, NDC-1022, works by upregulating gene expression in pathways that yield to remyelination.
ENDECE's research is unique in that it focuses on a cure rather than the treatment of symptoms MS. All existing therapies impact the immune response while actually slowing down remyelination. NDC-1022 promises to do just the opposite. It does not affect immune response, but instead aims to facilitate the remyelination process.
In order to assess the therapeutic components of NDC-1022, ENDECE has partnered with the MRF, which will evaluate the compound's potential to cure MS.
The MRF, now in its ninth year, began by addressing the inflammation component of the disease. Now, armed with new research and innovative analytical tools, the foundation is prepared to evaluate the possibility of myelin repair. Its mission—to introduce a remyelination therapy into clinical trials by 2014—is aided by the cultivation of true collaboration.
"If two parties want to move something together they have to cooperate with each other, they have to share data. It's so simple, it's almost embarrassing," says Dr. Jay Tung, vice president of drug discovery and research operations at the MRF.
The MRF's Accelerated Research Collaboration (ARC) model addresses this need by facilitating real-time discussions and information sharing among scientists from private research companies, pharmaceutical companies and universities.
"By combining the innovative approach by ENDECE Neural to remyelination and the resources available at the MRF Translational Medicine Center, we can expedite progress towards developing new multiple sclerosis treatments for patients," says Tung.
At their new Translational Medical Center, MRF scientists will interrogate the therapeutic components of NDC-1022 using sophisticated new research tools. They will use their expertise to interpret results, which will be shared with ENDECE and other members of their research consortium. As the MRF research progresses, ENDECE will lend its experience in moving compounds from drug discovery through Phase II clinical trials.
According to Dr. James Yarger, president of ENDECE Neural, "Our chief medical officer has experience taking compounds into the clinics through Phase II, bringing our experience base to the relationship. This is truly collaboration where both the parties are bringing their experience together and working together to get this out to the clinic as quickly as we can."
The first round of results from the MRF can be expected in early summer and are eagerly awaited by members of the scientific community. As they assess the therapeutic properties of NDC-1022, the MRF continues to build relationships with pharmaceutical companies recognizing that they ultimately have to turn their research over to them in order to commercialize treatments. Forming friendly agreements now means expediting the delivery of a therapy for patients that cannot afford to wait.
The MRF and ENDECE partnership has a simple mission, according to Tung: It is "to provide a first-in-class therapeutic for myelin repair." Their goal of entering into clinical trials by 2014 is admittedly ambitious, but they are aided by their reliance on collaboration in its truest form—the open sharing of information and ideas with the hope of expelling the suffering caused by MS.