STRASBOURG, France—Biopharmaceutical company DomainTherapeutics, which focuses on discovering and developing small molecules thattarget G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), has announced that the Frenchgovernment has selected Domain Therapeutics' ATHOS project to receivegovernment funding. The project's goal is to develop new drug candidates andidentify therapeutic targets for the treatment of schizophrenia.
The ATHOS project will receive a total of EUR 5.1 millionover the course of three years. Roughly 45 percent of the ATHOS budget will beprovided by central and regional government organizations, including the grantof EUR 933,000 to Domain Therapeutics.
"Domain Therapeutics' know-how in the field of GPCRscombined with our proprietary technology, DTect-All, and the excellence of ourtwo partners will enable us to bring a solution to this challenge ofidentifying candidate drugs targeting orphan GPCRs linked to schizophrenia," PascalNeuville, CEO of Domain Therapeutics, said in a press release. "The ATHOSproject allows us to extend our franchise in neuropsychiatric disorders and inchallenging and innovative therapeutic targets."
The project will be centered on orphan GPCRs. Currently,GPCRs represent the targets for 40 percent of drugs that are on the market,making them the largest class of therapeutic targets. Orphan GPCRs have gottenless attention, however, due to the lack of an identified endogenous ligand.This corner of the market represents a great deal of potential for discoveryand therapeutics, as roughly 150 orphan GPCRs have been described so far.
The ATHOS consortium, which is led by Domain Therapeutics,also includes Prestwick Chemical and the Brigitte Kieffer laboratory at theInstitute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology. The Brigitte Kiefferlaboratory will be in charge of mapping orphan GPCRs in the brain as well asobtaining animal models in order to validate targets for neuropsychiatricdisorders. For its part, Prestwick Chemical will leverage its experience inoptimizing active compounds.
Schizophrenia currently affects an estimated 24 millionpeople worldwide, and according to the World Health Organization, more than 50percent of those suffering from schizophrenia are not receiving appropriatecare. The disease, which affects the central nervous system, generally beginsin adolescence. It involves a dissociation of the patient's personality, andauditory hallucinations, paranoid delirium and attention disorders are common.In addition, the life expectancy of those with schizophrenia is on average 12years shorter than that of those without the disease. WHO notes that "thoughthe incidence is low (3-10,000), the prevalence is high due to chronicity." While there are treatments available, there is no cure for the disease.
The funding that the project will receive comes from theFrench government fund Fonds Unique Interministériel, the Alsace Region andOSEO.
Domain Therapeutics press release