In Search of Remyelination Therapies
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an inflammatory disease with no known cure. It affects over 400,000 people in the US and over 2.5 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of non-traumatic neurological disability in North America.
It is a chronic and brutal disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord. MS symptoms are due to the damage or loss of myelin sheath that surrounds, isolates and protects axons of brain and spinal cord. The results are often debilitating and afflict most sufferers in the prime of their lives. The annual costs to slow the disease and treat related
It is with hope and optimism that I present Dr. Satish Medicetty and his company, Renovo Neural Inc. (RNI) in this edition of the “News Behind the Neuroscience News”.
I became aware of Satish and his company in my search for Stem Cells that would broaden Neuromics ability to serve early phase Neuroscience Drug Discovery.
Apr 2010 – Present: President and Board Director Renovo Neural Inc.
June 2008 – Mar 2010: Director of Stem Cell Research and Lab Operations
July 2005 – June 2008: Senior Scientist Athersys
2006 – 2008: MBA, Case Western University
2002 – 2005: PhD, Kansas State University
After my first conversation with him, I was impressed with the capabilities RNI offered.
The company, founded in 2008 with a$3 million grant from the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission, is leveraging cutting edge research from Dr. Bruce Trapp’s lab at the Cleveland Clinic.
At the core, RNI offers pioneering and propriety assays that give Drug Discovery Companies the ability to screen small molecules and compounds that could be lead therapy candidates for MS and other myelin-related diseases. These screens use a type of stem cell called adult oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs).
The Power of OPCs
So what makes these OPCs an engine for finding cures for MS? Inflammation associated with MS attacks destroys cells called oligodendrocytes that produce myelin. The only way to reverse this autoimmune related process is for the brain to produce healthy cells that can catalyze re-myelination. Enter OPCs.
OPCs are the raw material for processes the central nervous system uses to manufacture oligodendrocytes. The brain’s inability to produce enough healthy cells to keep up with the destruction is a root cause of the disease. Understanding how to kick start and keep the oligodendrocyte factory running is a key to reversing this relentless destruction.
RNI has the capabilities to the decrease time required and increase the odds for discovering potential MS therapies. They have the raw material (OPCs) and the know how to encourage their transformation into myelinating cells. This expertise can be utilized can be used then to rapidly test new compounds both in vitro and in vivo.
The features of their in vitro assays include:
- Stringent protocols to generate relatively homogeneous (>85% pure) and consistent population of OPCs as a reliable starting material for HCS assays
- Relatively high throughput primary screen to identify potential candidates that promote OPC proliferation and/or differentiation
- Secondary screen to confirm and qualify compounds for further pharmacological testing
- Positive and negative controls that demonstrate the utility of HCS assays to identify lead candidates that promote OPC proliferation and differentiation.
The features of their in vivo cuprizone assays include:
- Stringent protocols to generate highly reproducible demyelination/remyelination cuprizone model
- Cuprizone model recapitulates the in vivo process of demyelination and remyelination in the brain.
- Cuprizone model provides consistent and accurate results for key regions of the brain that are affected in MS patients including both white and gray matter regions – corpus callosum, hippocampus and cortex.
- Proof of concept studies demonstrate the utility of our in vivo remyelination assays to evaluate preclinical efficacy of potential remyelination therapies
The end goal is to discover therapies that repair neurons damaged by MS via remyelination and to get them in the hands of people that need them. I will keep you posted on their progress.