Through the partnership, the MRF and ENDECE have becomeformidable allies in the battle against multiple sclerosis, a debilitating andfatal condition caused by the degeneration of the myelin sheath, the protectivelayer around the axon of a nerve cell. Caused by inflammation stemming from the body attacking its own immunesystem, the myelin begins to disappear, and with it begins to disappear theindividual's ability to control his or her body.
Scientists at ENDECE have discovered a small-moleculecompound that may be able to repair the axon and thus reverse the symptoms ofMS. The compound, NDC-1022, works by upregulating gene expression in pathwaysthat yield to remyelination.
ENDECE's research is unique in that it focuses on a curerather than the treatment of symptoms MS. All existing therapies impact theimmune response while actually slowing down remyelination. NDC-1022 promises todo just the opposite. It does not affect immune response, but instead aims tofacilitate 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 potentialto cure MS.
The MRF, now in its ninth year, began by addressing theinflammation component of the disease. Now, armed with new research andinnovative analytical tools, the foundation is prepared to evaluate thepossibility of myelin repair. Its mission—to introduce a remyelination therapyinto clinical trials by 2014—is aided by the cultivation of truecollaboration.
"If two parties want to move something together they have tocooperate with each other, they have to share data. It's so simple, it's almostembarrassing," says Dr. Jay Tung, vice president of drug discovery and researchoperations at the MRF.
The MRF's Accelerated Research Collaboration (ARC) modeladdresses this need by facilitating real-time discussions and informationsharing among scientists from private research companies, pharmaceuticalcompanies and universities.
"By combining the innovative approach by ENDECE Neural toremyelination and the resources available at the MRF Translational MedicineCenter, we can expedite progress towards developing new multiple sclerosistreatments for patients," says Tung.
At their new Translational Medical Center, MRF scientistswill interrogate the therapeutic components of NDC-1022 using sophisticated newresearch tools. They will use their expertise to interpret results, which willbe shared with ENDECE and other members of their research consortium. As theMRF research progresses, ENDECE will lend its experience in moving compoundsfrom 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 clinicsthrough Phase II, bringing our experience base to the relationship. This istruly collaboration where both the parties are bringing their experiencetogether and working together to get this out to the clinic as quickly as wecan."
The first round of results from the MRF can be expected inearly summer and are eagerly awaited by members of the scientific community. Asthey assess the therapeutic properties of NDC-1022, the MRF continues to buildrelationships with pharmaceutical companies recognizing that they ultimatelyhave to turn their research over to them in order to commercialize treatments.Forming friendly agreements now means expediting the delivery of a therapy forpatients 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 myelinrepair." Their goal of entering into clinical trials by 2014 is admittedlyambitious, but they are aided by their reliance on collaboration in its truestform—the open sharing of information and ideas with the hope of expelling thesuffering caused by MS.