Domain Therapeutics wins €933,000 grant for schizophrenia drug
22 March 2012
Strasbourg-based Domain Therapeutics, which develops small
molecules targeting G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), has announced
that the ATHOS project has been selected for French government funding.
ATHOS aims to develop new drug candidates and identify therapeutic
targets for schizophrenia. Total funding will amount to €5.1 million
over three years. Some 45% of the ATHOS budget will be provided by
central and regional government organizations, including the grant
of €933,000 to Domain Therapeutics.
Schizophrenia is a disease of the central nervous system
generally starting in adolescence and becoming a chronic condition.
It typically exhibits a dissociation of the personality, giving rise
to auditory hallucinations, paranoid delirium and attention
disorders. These problems affect not only the patient’s mental
health but also life expectancy, which is 12 years shorter than that
of the general population.
Schizophrenia and related conditions affect two to three per cent
of the world population but existing treatments do not improve the
cognitive disturbances resulting from the disease and some patients
remain completely resistant to available treatments.
The ATHOS project will focus on a single class of therapeutic
targets, orphan GPCRs. GPCRs are the target for 40% of drugs
currently on the market and hence represent the largest class of
therapeutic targets. Orphan GPCRs however have been less explored
due to the lack of an identified endogenous ligand. This means these
orphan GPCRs, of which some 150 have been described to date, offer a
huge therapeutic potential.
Led by Domain Therapeutics, the ATHOS consortium includes
Prestwick Chemical, a medicinal chemistry specialist, and the
Brigitte Kieffer laboratory at the Institute of Genetics and
Molecular and Cellular Biology, which also specializes in GPCRs. The
Brigitte Kieffer laboratory will be in charge of mapping orphan
GPCRs in the brain and obtaining appropriate animal models to
validate targets for neuropsychiatric disorders. Prestwick Chemical
will apply its expertise in optimizing active compounds.
“Domain Therapeutics know-how in the field of GPCRs combined with
our proprietary technology, DTect-All (TM), and the excellence of
our two partners will enable us to bring a solution to this
challenge of identifying candidate drugs targeting orphan GPCRs
linked to schizophrenia,” said Pascal Neuville, CEO of Domain
Therapeutics. “The ATHOS project allows us to extend our franchise
in neuropsychiatric disorders and in challenging and innovative
The substantial funding being made available comes from a French
government fund (Fonds Unique Interministériel), the Alsace Region
and OSEO, an agency active in funding innovative projects.