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New drug candidate shown to delay motor neurone disease onset

PBR Staff Writer Published 30 May 2017

Scientists at the University of Sheffield in the UK have reported encouraging early results in study of a potential drug to combat a form of motor neurone disease.

Scientists at Sheffield University’s Institute of Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) believe the drug has demonstrated the potential to prevent the death of motor neurones and stop the onset of the disease.

Motor Neurone Disease, which is also called as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that results in muscle weakness, paralysis and respiratory failure.

British artificial intelligence company Benevolen has discovered the drug candidate, on which the research was conducted by the team under the leadership of Dr Richard Mead and Dr Laura Ferraiuolo from the university’s SITraN.

SITraN is planning to advance the research based on the existing study, evaluating the suitability and potential for clinical development.

Researchers are planning to present an abstract on the study at the Motor Neurone Disease Association 28th International Symposium in Boston of US, which will be held in December.

Currently, there are only two FDA-approved drugs for the disease, including Riluzole thatwas approved in 1995 and recently approved Edaravone.

SITraN’s Richard Mead said: “BenevolentAI came to us with some newly identified compounds discovered by their technology – two of which were new to us in the field and, following this research, are now looking very promising.

“Our plan now is to conduct further detailed testing and continue to quickly progress towards a potential treatment for ALS.”


Image: The study has showed that the drug can prevent the death of motor neurones in patient cell models. Photo: courtesy of The University Of Sheffield.