Developing Neuroprotective Therapies: Defending the Nervous System from Damage
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The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Accelerator Life Science Partners recently announced the launch of Magnolia Neurosciences Corporation – a biopharmaceutical company advancing a new class of neuroprotective medicines. To learn more about Magnolia Neurosciences, we spoke to Jim Ray, Ph.D., Director of the Neurodegeneration Consortium at MD Anderson.
Laura Mason (LM): Could you tell us more about the launch of Magnolia Neurosciences Corporation?
Jim Ray (JR): Magnolia Neurosciences was co-founded by Accelerator Life Science Partners and MD Anderson to bring together several of the world’s leading pharma companies and biotechnology venture capital groups to develop neuroprotective therapies. These drug candidates are based on discoveries made by cross-functional teams within MD Anderson’s Therapeutics Discovery division, including the Neurodegeneration Consortium (NDC) and Institute for Applied Cancer Science (IACS). As part of the NDC, a multi-institutional initiative, MD Anderson has been researching possible therapies for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders for over five years.
LM: What is the company’s mission?
JR: Magnolia’s mission is to develop medicines that protect the nervous system from damage caused by conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative injury, ranging from chronic diseases like Parkinson’s disease to traumatic brain injury and neurocognitive side effects caused by chemotherapy treatment, including peripheral neuropathy and “chemobrain”.
LM: What will the University of Texas MD Anderson’s role be within the company?
JR: It is expected that Magnolia will engage MD Anderson scientists within the NDC and IACS to continue our research in this area and develop drug candidates that address the vast unmet medical need for neuroprotective agents. Together with Philip Jones, Ph.D., Vice President of Therapeutics Discovery at MD Anderson, I will serve as a member of Magnolia’s scientific advisory board. We hope that MD Anderson will be able to play a role in future clinical trials with Magnolia’s neuroprotective agents, with the goal of improving the quality of life for our cancer patients.
LM: Could you tell us about next steps, and provide us some insight into the research that will be conducted by Magnolia Neurosciences Corporation?
JR: Magnolia’s lead program is progressing along the drug discovery continuum and is expected to enter into clinical testing by mid-2019. We are testing neuroprotective molecules in a wide range of models in order to understand their potential value to different patient populations. Meanwhile we will be optimizing the properties of our neuroprotective medicines across these prioritized indications.
Jim Ray, PhD, was speaking to Laura Elizabeth Mason, Science Writer for Technology Networks.