Using this grant 4SC can apply its key epigenetic expertise in drug discovery and development, which the company had so far been focusing primarily on oncology, also in the field of cardiovascular diseases.
The collaboration of 4SC Discovery, the Medical Clinic of the University of Munich and other companies and academic working groups was launched recently and is scheduled to run for about three years. The main collaboration partner of 4SC Discovery is Prof. Dr. med. Martin Dichgans, Director of the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research (ISD) of the Medical Clinic of the University of Munich. The grant is part of the EU consortium "CVgenes-at-target" (Grant Agreement Number: 601456) for the purpose of researching new therapeutic target structures for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases caused by an inflammatory reaction of the blood vessels. This project, which involves twelve partners in Europe, will be coordinated by Prof. Dr. Heribert Schunkert from the German Heart Centre in Munich.
4SC Discovery has already started its work of identifying and optimising highly potent, selective compounds against a new epigenetic target molecule. The company will perform part of the compound screening, medicinal chemistry and the optimisation of the compounds' pharmacokinetics and solubility. Preclinical trials with the compounds will be conducted at the Medical Clinic of the University of Munich to deliver the first proofs-of-concept. 4SC Discovery will retain the rights to the identified substances.
During the first part of the collaboration, the focus will be on researching the investigated epigenetic molecule as a possible therapeutic target structure for stroke. Epigenetic target structures such as histone deacetylases (HDACs) coordinate gene transcription and therefore play an important role in the development of cancer and neurological diseases. It will now be researched what role epigenetic modifications play in cardiovascular diseases. During the second part of the collaboration, additional target structures that potentially play a role in stroke development will be subjected to a compound screening and potential inhibitors will be identified and optimised.
Stroke is a consequence of cardiovascular diseases and the third most frequent cause of death in Germany. A recently conducted analysis of the global study entitled "Global Burden of Disease" published in the renowned medical journal Lancet in January of 2014 showed that the number of younger people suffering from stroke is increasing. This is caused by risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, high blood sugar, lack of exercise and an unbalanced diet. In 2010, about 16.9 million people worldwide suffered a stroke and 5.9 million of them died as a result.
Dr. Daniel Vitt, Managing Director of 4SC Discovery GmbH and Chief Scientific Officer at 4SC AG, commented: "While cardiovascular diseases were not a focus for 4SC in the past, we have built a comprehensive knowledge base regarding the effective inhibition of HDAC molecules based on our epigenetic research especially in the field of cancer. As a result, we are now also viewed as a competent partner in other therapeutic areas in which epigenetic molecules play an important role. We are pleased to start another collaboration with renowned partners such as the Medical Clinic of the University of Munich and to be able to make a contribution in the discovery of new compounds. Apart from the scientific aspect, EU funding for our activities also represents an attractive economic incentive."
Prof. Dr. med. Martin Dichgans, Director of the Institute for Stroke and Dementia Research (ISD) at the Medical Clinic of the University of Munich, added: "It is our objective to advance research in the field of stroke and dementia and to make a contribution to the development of entirely new treatment options. 4SC Discovery is the ideal partner for us in terms of epigenetic issues and the practical implementation of early-stage research."