Researchers used the new peptide drug in an animal model of severe ischemic stroke and found it improved motor function, sensory function, spatial learning and memory. (iStock/Getty Images Plus)
Once a stroke occurs, the damage cannot be repaired by any drug on the market. But researchers believe they have found an option that could protect and repair the damage that occurs in a stroke up to a week after it starts – but limited resources may be blocking its path to the clinic.
There is only one drug on the market to treat strokes: Activase, sold by Roche’s Genentech, must be given within 4.5 hours of the onset of a stroke. Most investigational stroke therapies currently being investigated must also be given within one to two days of the onset of the condition.
Scientists now believe they have identified a peptide that could completely change the scenario of stroke treatment.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland found that the drug, called NVG-291-R, promotes nervous system repair and significant functional recovery in an animal
The drug repaired the damage by creating new neuronal connections and enhancing the migration of new neurons to the damaged site.
The researchers used NVG-291-R to block signaling pathways known as chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, resulting in significant behavioral recovery including improved motor function, sensory function, spatial learning and memory. The researchers also found that the drug is effective even when given up to seven days after the onset of a stroke.
NervGen Pharma, a Canadian-based clinical-stage biotech, currently owns the rights to NVG-291-R and plans trials in various diseases caused by neuronal damage. Although the above research evaluated the drug’s effect on neurorepair after stroke, NervGen is first starting clinical trials in patients with spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, starting in 2022 and 2023.
When asked about the absence of stroke patients in its plans for upcoming trials, the biotech cited limited resources. NervGen’s initial focus is based on the weight of scientific evidence to support these indications, potential for positive patient impact, development feasibility, investor sentiment and commercial potential.
“Given these compelling new preclinical data on stroke, we believe there is a solid opportunity to secure non-dilutive funding to develop the program in the clinic through partnerships, whether with industry or government,” NervGen said.