ReNeuroGen, a virtual pharmaceutical company with the potential to help stroke victims, has been selected as one of 25 finalists in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, which will culminate June 5-6 at Union South on the UW-Madison Campus.
Led by Stephen Naylor and Kirkwood Pritchard, ReNeuroGen began as an academic program at the Medical College of Wisconsin and transitioned into a vibrant start-up company that is poised to enter pre-clinical trials for its combination drug therapy.
The therapy is a combination, neuroprotective drug mix of tripeptides used in the adjuvant treatment of stroke. It is not used for the removal of a clot. Instead, it prevents the aftermath damage of stroke, which can result in significant brain damage and severe patient disability problems.
The tripeptide combination readily traverses the blood brain barrier and will be administered to the patient immediately after the removal of the clot in an ischemic stroke or after cessation of bleeding in a hemorrhagic stroke.
ReNeuroGen has demonstrated efficacy in a well-defined animal stroke model with a roughly 60 percent shrinkage of lesion size. The company has three issued patents and is about to submit two more.
There have been more than 1,000 compounds tested for neuroprotective action in stroke and all have failed. This failure rate is due to the fact that two principal modes of damage occur after stroke, the “neutrophil mediated damage” and the “Ischemic cascade.” All previous compounds have only attempted to ameliorate the Ischemic cascade, thus only treating half the problem.
The therapy is designed to stop both mechanisms of causal damage, and ReNeuroGen’s data show that the combination is promising in terms of safety, efficacy and mechanisms of action.
Worldwide, there have been 114 trials completed for neuroprotective drugs in stroke and more than 1,000 compounds evaluated. All candidates have failed with the exception of Edaravone, which was only approved for neuroprotection in Japan. Currently, there are no neuroprotective therapies for stroke approved in the United States or Europe.
Every year, 6 million people die worldwide and 5 million are left permanently disabled by stroke. It is the second leading cause of disability. These disabled traits are primarily caused by brain damage occurring after the initial stroke.
The current cost of stroke on the U.S. economy alone is $70 billion a year and it is expected to increase to $300 billion by 2030.
Pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to cut costs and improve the efficiency of their drug development processes. To achieve this, they rely on small pharmaceutical companies such as ReNeuroGen to supply them with a pipeline of drugs.
Upon successful completion of the necessary clinical trials, ReNeuroGen plans to negotiate with a large pharmaceutical company for either acquisition or licensing rights to KYC+XXX.
ReNeuroGen is currently seeking funding for each stage of discovery and development which includes a preclinical evaluation and at least two clinical trials.
–By Jacob Otto
Otto recently graduated from the UW-Madison with a focus in Life Sciences Communications and Molecular Biology.