Researchers from the biotech company Iproteos and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine of Barcelona (IRB Barcelona), member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) –based at the Barcelona Science Park– in collaboration with scientists from the Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group –belonging to the University of Basque Country /Universidad del País Vasco (UPV/EHU) and to the Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM)– have published an article at European Neuropsychopharmacology, where the new procognitive drug efficacy has been demonstrated for schizophrenia treatment.

The compound, named IPR19, has demonstrated its efficacy to revert the Cognitive Impairment Associated to Schizophrenia (CIAS), an action that is achieved through the modulation of a new mechanism of action. The target has not been explored to date for this disease, fact that emphasizes the novelty of the work. Besides, it is a stable, non-toxic and stable drug with capacity to penetrate the brain, where it performs its action. A great number of potential drugs are unable to cross the Central Nervous System protecting barrier, making impossible the therapeutic action. However, IPR19 is able to go through this restrictive barrier.

“It is the first time that a compound of these characteristics is demonstrated to have potential for being used in the treatment of CIAS. IPR19 implies a starting point for the generation of novel therapies for this symptomatology, that lacks of current treatment”, comments Roger Prades, author of the scientific paper.

The efficacy verification has been performed in schizophrenia animal models. Specifically, the drug action has been validated in three mouse models that are characterized by a deficit on the cognitive function. The experiments have been conducted in collaboration with the Neuropsychopharmacology group of the Basque Country University and CIBERSAM. Through a battery of tests, where working and spatial memory are evaluated, it has been demonstrated that IPR19 administration is able to revert the cognitive deficit and recover the basal levels.

“This publication is a highly relevant achievement for Iproteos, since it implies the validation of our schizophrenia project by the neuropsychopharmacology international expert community”, affirms Teresa Tarragó, CEO of Iproteos. “The collaboration with the group of Prof. Javier Meana, from the Basque Country University and CIBERSAM, has been key in the efficacy demonstration of our drug. This publication is another proof that the public-private collaboration can provide a great benefit to the Spanish research environment, if it is properly organized”.

Iproteos is currently peforming the regulatory preclinical phase of its candidate for the CIAS treatment. The company recently closed a funding round, led by Caixa Capital Risc, for the performance of these experiments. It is planned that the drug will be evaluated in humans in 2018.

Schizophrenia is a heterogeneous disease that affects 45 million people worldwide. The clinical signs are classified into three symptom groups: positive (speech, thought and behaviour disturbances, hallucinations, delusions), negative (apathy, anhedonia) and cognitive (reduced ability to pay selective attention, difficulty on processing social and emotional information, impaired working memory). Despite there is treatment for the first two symptom groups, CIAS is an unmet medical need. This impossibilities the daily life of patients (a 90% unemployment rate is estimated among schizophrenia patients). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), schizophrenia is one of the most disabling diseases.

Given the need of procognitive drugs, Iproteos’ discovery opens new avenues to cover the lack of research in this area.

• Reference article:
Roger Prades, Eva Munarriz-Cuezva, Leyre Urigüen, Itziar Gil-Pisa, Lídia Gómez, Laura Mendieta, Soledad Royo, Ernest Giralt, Teresa Tarragó, J. Javier Meana. The prolyl oligopeptidase inhibitor IPR19 ameliorates cognitive deficits in mouse models of schizophrenia. European Neuropsychopharmacology. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2016.11.016

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