Domain Therapeutics wins €933,000 grant for schizophrenia drug project
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 therapeutic targets.”
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.