Nyrada (ASX: NYR) has achieved a milestone in one of its drug development programs for the treatment of brain injury, revealing its lead candidate compounds can cross the blood-brain barrier in the intact, uninjured animal brain.
The biotech junior’s brain injury program aims to develop a neuroprotectant drug to reduce secondary brain damage following head trauma and stroke in order to improve patient outcomes and survival rates.
The program intends to prevent this secondary injury by reducing the build-up of calcium ions in brain cells, which causes the cells to die.
Blocking calcium ion build-up
In an earlier pre-clinical proof-of-concept efficacy study in a stroke model, Nyrada’s compound NYX-104 was found to significantly reduce the volume of brain injury in its test subjects, compared to animals receiving placebo treatment.
The company then developed a more potent version of the compound, which it called NYX-242, which demonstrated an ability to block calcium ion build-up in cells at a potency rate three times greater.
Nyrada also broadened its competitive advantage and commercial opportunity with the lead compound NYX-1010, following the discovery of a new generation of compounds with a different molecular target but “considerably greater potency” in blocking calcium.
Blood-brain barrier penetration
Nyrada’s latest results from a separate pre-clinical pharmacokinetic study have shown that therapeutic concentrations of both NYX-242 and NYX-1010 can be detected in the healthy animal brain at 30 minutes following a single intravenous dose.
The company described this as a “significant finding” as it shows that both drugs can readily cross the intact blood-brain barrier, which is a protective barrier between the components of the blood and the cells that form brain tissue.
According to Nyrada, a large proportion of drugs cannot cross this barrier to reach the desired target in brain tissue and those that can get readily pumped out and thus, cannot accumulate in a sufficient quantity to be effective.
“These latest results show that we have two potent compounds that can easily cross the blood-brain-barrier at their anticipated therapeutic levels, or better,” Nyrada Scientific Advisory Board chairman Professor Gary Housley said.
“Having two potent drug candidates that act on distinctly different targets to limit toxic calcium ion build-up in brain cells is a huge achievement,” Nyrada chief executive officer James Bonnar added.
Professor Housley said Nyrada’s next steps involved conducting similar studies via intravenous and intranasal dosing, which are the “preferred” methods in a clinical setting.
The data is expected to be reported in the “coming weeks”.
Mr Bonnar said the latest data is an “exciting step forward” for the company as it provides a “solid scientific foundation and greatly de-risks the brain injury program”.
“Nyrada is well positioned to becoming a leader in the field of brain injury drug development,” he added.
According to the company, head trauma from incidents such as motor vehicle accidents, falls and sporting injuries, and stroke are leading causes of hospital admissions and long-term rehabilitation service requirements.