NervGen Pharma to take Case Western-developed nerve regeneration tech to market
Vancouver, B.C.-based regenerative medicine company NervGen Pharma, and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland are collaborating to commercialize a patented technology for spinal cord injury and other conditions associated with nerve damage.
Jerry Silver, a spinal cord injury regenerative medicine researcher, co-inventor and professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve's School of Medicine, developed the technology. As he sees it, the technology holds the possibility of improving the lives of millions of spinal cord injury patients.
In his research, Silver identified protein tyrosine phosphatase, PTP, as a key neural receptor that inhibits nerve regeneration through areas of scarring that occurs in spinal cord injuries and other medical conditions.
Silver zeroed in on PTPs with an agent called ISP, which promotes regeneration of damaged nerves and functional improvement in animal models. To further augment his work, he employed a series of what he calls "receptor antagonists" that can be delivered systemically.
He also identified an analogue of ISP that is ready for clinical development.
NervGen plans to take the ISP analog into the clinic for the treatment of spinal cord injury. It will also leverage the technology to identify candidates for other related medical conditions,
Nerve damage, from loss of sensation to paralysis, occurs with physical traumas such as car accidents and combat injuries.
It also occurs with multiple sclerosis, heart attack induced arrhythmia, Alzheimer's disease, stroke and other diseases and traumas in which the nerves are damaged.
"We are extremely excited to be advancing this important nerve regeneration technology as there is currently no approved therapy known to enhance nerve regrowth in patients suffering from nerve damage," said Ernest Wong, CEO of NervGen, in a statement. He added that the functional recovery observed in animal models had been unprecedented and consistent across multiple preclinical models in several independent university labs.
The license agreement also includes technologies co-developed with Oregon Health & Science University, Ohio State University and Hong Kong University.