The initial investment will support the development of novel positive allosteric modulators (“PAMs”) of the metabotropic glutamate receptor subtype 4 (“mGlu4”) as an innovative new treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
Appello Pharmaceuticals is a Nashville, TN based preclinical-stage company focused on advancing novel positive allosteric modulators of mGlu4 for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
Brian Laden, Ph.D., the Appello’s President and COO, stated, “Our focus is on bringing a much-needed novel therapy to Parkinson’s patients. The support and expertise of our board and investors will help make that goal a reality.”
An estimated 1 million Americans have Parkinson’s disease, a progressive brain disorder characterized by resting tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement, as well as a battery of non-motor symptoms. It is caused by the death of nerve cells in a specific brain region that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine.
Licensed to Appello from Vanderbilt University, these mGlu4-specific PAMs were developed at VCNDD Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery.
“These compounds have some unique properties and carry with them the potential to change the way Parkinson’s patients are treated,” said P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D., VCNDD Director and Lee E. Limbird Professor of Pharmacology, who will also join Appello’s Board of Directors. “I look forward to working with the team to achieve that vision.”
Dopamine replacement therapy is today’s standard treatment. It relieves some motor symptoms of the disease, but over time it causes debilitating side effects such as involuntary, uncontrollable movements, called dyskinesia.
Craig Lindsley, Ph.D., VCNDD Director of Medical Chemistry and the William K. Warren Jr. Chair in Medicine, added, “With the support of Deerfield and Mountain Group Partners, we are well-positioned to rapidly advance our lead compound into the clinic and address an important unmet medical need.”
Current Parkinson’s treatments also provide a decreasing benefit to patients as the disease worsens over the long term. The mGlu4 PAMs work in a fundamentally different way from dopamine replacement therapy, instead modulating another of the brain’s neurotransmitters, glutamate. When given systemically in a preclinical model of Parkinson’s disease, they reach the brain and relieve motor symptoms, including rigidity and akinesia, a “freezing” of certain motor muscles.
Alan Bentley, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Transfer at Vanderbilt commented that, “Vanderbilt is unique among U.S. universities in its ability to discover and develop new therapeutics pre-clinically, and strong partners like Appello make it possible for these discoveries to advance clinically and impact patients’ lives. It is genuinely exciting to see such prominent scientific players committing to this essential drug development program in the Nashville area, together with such distinguished investment partners.”
For more information contact: Justin Wilson – firstname.lastname@example.org – 615-242-8856